Definition of Emphysema
Emphysema is a long-term respiratory disease that is also one of the many diseases, for the most part, known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). ((n.d.). Merriam-Webster). In the course of Emphysema, the alveoli, which are tiny air sacs in the lungs, are continuously demolished making it progressively harder and harder to breathe. When the narrow, fragile alveoli become damaged and or destroyed in any way, the lungs will no longer have its’ natural elasticity that it once had. This causes the alveoli to stretch beyond its capacity or even rupture. (WebMD,2008-2013). Then that’s where the lack of oxygen comes in. Because of the destruction of the alveoli’s, your body isn’t getting the right amount of oxygen it needs, if any. With that being said the alveoli’s also would be unable or even less able to get rid of carbon dioxide that doesn’t need to be in our bodies.
Emphysema has many causes. The main cause is long term exposure to airborne irritants. (Mayo Cliff Staff). Those include tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke, air pollution, manufacturing fumes, and coal and silica dust. Of all of those airborne irritants smoking is the leading cause. Many think that secondhand smoke isn’t that bad, well it’s still a major risk when it comes to Emphysema. Emphysema can also be inherited, but that happens very seldom. (Rasmussen & Brandt).
Emphysema has a lot of symptoms, although they are not always noticeable. A lot of common symptoms are wheezing, coughing, bringing up phlegm, tightness in chest, constant fatigue, difficulty sleeping, morning headaches, weight loss, and lethargy. All of the symptoms are signs that you should pay attention to, but the most important symptoms are the progressive shortness of breath, the lips and fingers turn blue or grey, the lack of mentally alert, and the heart beats abnormally fast. (Mayo Cliff Staff).
Emphysema is diagnosed with a numerous amount of examinations. These examinations include lab, imaging and lung function examinations. Some of the examinations are blood, chest x-rays, spirometry, exercise, and sputum tests (Rasmussen & Brandt). Every test measures something different. For instance the chest x-rays gives a vivid picture of the heart and lungs to see what kind of damage you have, while the spirometer measures how well you breathe. The test measures how much air the lungs are able to push out, which is called forced expiratory volume (FEV). The test results show how your airway has become effected. To determine if emphysema is present those following things need to be done. A test that shows emphysema will show incredible enlargement of the lungs, scarring, and formation of bullae. (Mayo Cliff Staff).
Emphysema doesn’t necessarily have a cure, but it does has many treatments that might reduce symptoms or slow the severity of the disease down. There are three main treatments for emphysema, medications, therapy and even...