Emphysema is a chronic lung disease that damages the air sacs in the lungs and reduces the ability to breathe. The damage makes it hard for oxygen to get into the bloodstream. People who have emphysema often feel out of breath, especially when they are doing something that takes a lot of physical effort. They may also experience a chronic cough. Emphysema is part of what's known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Emphysema causes happen when the walls between small air sacs in the lungs break down, allowing those sacs to collapse. This loss of air space reduces the amount of oxygen moved from the trachea into the bloodstream. Instead, what little oxygen one is able to get ends up being exhaled. Over time, the air spaces in the lungs get bigger and bigger, and fewer oxygen molecules can be transferred into the blood. The body gets less and less oxygen than it needs in order to function properly. The loss of alveoli causes emphysema.
Emphysema often develops slowly over many years as an individual is exposed to things that can damage the lungs, such as:
People with emphysema often have shortness of breath and chronic cough with phlegm. The damage to the lungs can lead to other problems, such as:
The damage to the lungs can't be reversed, but treatment can slow the progress of emphysema and help keep an individual healthy.
Emphysema symptoms include persistent shortness of breath, fatigue, wheezing, dry cough with phlegm. If caused by smoking, signs of emphysema worsen during cigarette smoking and exposure to other people's cigarette smoke. As emphysema worsens over time, it becomes difficult for sufferers to perform even light physical exercise or complete household chores without having an attack.
Emphysema usually affects the upper portions of the lungs, but can affect all lung areas. Over time, emphysema symptoms worsen, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of emphysema are frequently worse with physical exertion and when the air becomes cold or dry. Other signs of emphysema include:
The risk factors for developing emphysema are the following:
The emphysema types are caused by the destruction of air-filled sacs in the lung called alveoli. The alveoli are responsible for absorbing oxygen into the blood and breathing out carbon dioxide. Without these sacs, there is no longer a way to transfer the oxygen into the bloodstream or get rid of the carbon dioxide that has already been breathed in.
There are two emphysema types; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) emphysema and Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency emphysema.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) accounts for 5% to 10% of all cases of acute lung injury. In ARDS, increased permeability of the alveolar epithelium results in the movement of protein-rich fluid into the alveolar airspaces. Decreased surfactant production leads to a loss of normal lung compliance, ventilation-perfusion mismatch, and pulmonary shunting. The ventilation-induced injury adds to the damage caused by hypoxemia and hypercapnia minimized; this can be through low tidal volume ventilation (6 mL/kg predicted body weight) with adequate positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) or respiratory rate (RR) titrated to arterial blood gas determinations. This treatment reduces mortality from ARDS but prolongs its average duration.
Currently, emphysema treatment is aimed at reducing signs and symptoms. Doctors might prescribe emphysema treatment such as:
Lung rehabilitation or pulmonary emphysema treatment programs. Lung emphysema transplantation may be considered for emphysema treatment if COPD emphysema treatment options aren't very effective. Patients who undergo a lung emphysema transplant will need to take medications to suppress their immune system.
As emphysema treatment methods advance, doctors may someday be able to prevent emphysema and even reverse emphysema. Treatments such as stem cell emphysema therapy, which involves the injection of emphysema stem cells into the lungs, may go a long way toward halting emphysema. Researchers are also investigating emphysema gene therapy.
Other emphysema treatments include:
-An exercise program
-Disease management training
-Remove damaged lung tissue
-Remove large air spaces (bullae) that can form when air sacs are destroyed. The bullae can interfere with breathing.
-Do a lung transplant. This is might be an option if an individual has very severe emphysema.
People who have emphysema generally live six to eight years less than other people. Emphysema life expectancy is difficult to predict emphysema stages because emphysema disease often develops slowly and emphysema symptoms may not be noticeable until emphysema's late stages.
Emphysema life expectancy ranges from sufferers living as many as 20 years to late emphysema stage patients dying only five years after emphysema diagnosis.
Stages: Emphysema stages range from a mild case of emphysema to severe stages, which can be fatal.
Emphysema stages usually include:
Emphysema stages 4 and 5 can decrease life expectancy by as much as two years with each stage due to the severity of emphysema stages 4 and 5.