Among all chronic respiratory conditions, emphysema is one of the most significant ones. It is one of the respiratory diseases belonging to the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) group. It is a condition that develops when the alveoli (air sacs) of the lungs lose their elasticity.
This disables the outflow of carbon dioxide from the lungs resulting in a permanent damage. Emphysema often occurs along with bronchitis. Cough and shortness of breath are the prominent symptoms. Most of the daily activities of a person get restricted due to this disease. One should note that this is an irreversible condition, and hence, it is advisable to take precautions to prevent it.
Must-Know Facts About Emphysema
- According to statistics, around 2 million Americans suffer from emphysema.
- As the elasticity of lungs weakens when a person suffers from chronic bronchitis, the two are often found to accompany each other.
- Smokers are at a high risk of suffering from this condition.
- This disorder is commonly observed in case of older men than people of any other age group.
- It is believed that women are protected from this disease due to certain hormones. However, this theory is not proven yet.
- These days, women tend to smoke as heavily as men, so the number of women suffering from emphysema is found to increase every year.
- This disease does not appear suddenly. It is the outcome of long time exposure to smoke.
- Smoking is considered as the number one cause of all respiratory diseases. Nearly 82% of the respiratory diseases are caused due to cigarette smoking.
- Although common among smokers, emphysema is not limited only to it. Inhaling dust and smoke can also result in this disease.
- The signs and symptoms (shortness of breath or breathlessness) can surface even after talking or laughing for a long time. Sometimes people also experience breathlessness after having meals.
- Emphysema is ranked as higher as at the 9th place among chronic diseases that impair the normal functioning of the body.
- In severe cases, the breathing becomes so difficult that the person may feel unable to walk, climb stairs or even perform daily activities.
- If the disease continues for a longer period, it can put pressure on the heart resulting in heart diseases.
- Emphysema is a common health issue in areas where air pollution is a major problem.
- As mentioned above, this is an irreversible respiratory disease, and hence, cannot be cured. However, medications can be used to treat the inflammation and alleviate the symptoms.
- In severe cases, life expectancy can be as low as 4 - 5 years, or less than that.
- One can bring the situation under control merely by following some preventive measures. Avoiding smoking and exposure to smoke and airborne pollutants can be helpful.
- Lastly, one of the most important things to note is that secondhand, or passive smoking, can also lead to emphysema in children and adults.
As smoking is one of the risk factors for causing this dangerous condition, it is better to reduce and quit smoking as soon as possible. Lastly, one should remember that emphysema cannot be cured, hence, one needs to be careful about it. Take care!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical professional.