Dr Dulcy Rakumakoe
Emphysema is a lung condition where the air sacs in your lungs are damaged, leading to shortness of breath.
The damage happens to the inner walls of the air sacs, causing them to weaken and rupture, creating larger air spaces instead of many small ones.
This reduces the surface area of the lungs and, in turn, the amount of oxygen that reaches your bloodstream. Many people who have emphysema also have chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is inflammation of the tubes that carry air to your lungs (bronchial tubes), which leads to a persistent cough. Smoking is the leading cause of emphysema.
hen it worsens, emphysema eventually causes shortness of breath even while you’re at rest. If you have had unexplained shortness of breath for several months, especially if it’s getting worse or it’s interfering with your daily activities, seek urgent medical attention.
You can have emphysema for many years without noticing any signs or symptoms. To prevent emphysema, don’t smoke and avoid breathing second-hand smoke. Wear a mask to protect your lungs if you work with chemical fumes or dust.
Causes Long-term exposure to airborne irritants, including:
The doctor will take a full history and do a medical examination to determine if you have emphysema. A lung function test (spirometer) can be done to check the capacity of your lungs. A chest X-ray is very important to rule out other causes of shortness of breath. But it can also show normal findings if you have emphysema. Computerised tomography (CT) scans can be useful for detecting and diagnosing emphysema. Blood tests can also be taken to check the amount of oxygen in your arteries.
Emphysema cannot be cured, but there are medications that can help relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor might suggest:
Lifestyle and home remedies
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