Irving Primary Care

What is Emphysema?

Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in which your air sacs can become stretched, overinflated, or narrowed. They may also collapse and get destroyed. When this happens, air pockets can form in your lungs, and the air becomes trapped in your damaged air sacs. As a result, your lungs slowly grow in size, and you find it harder to breathe. This can deprive your body of oxygen.

Emphysema affects nearly 24 million people in the United States. If you have this disease, you will find it difficult to empty your lungs of air. This is known as airflow limitation. In this article, we are going to discuss the causes and symptoms of Emphysema and whether it can be treated.

Causes of Emphysema

There are several causes of Emphysema. These include:

  • Smoking
  • AAT deficiency
  • Overexposure to air pollution

Smoking is one of the most common causes of this condition. It can destroy the linings of your air sacs. As per research, smokers are 6 times more likely to suffer from emphysema than nonsmokers.

The second major cause of emphysema is suffering an Alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency. AAT is a protein found in your blood. It prevents white blood cells from attacking your tissues. If you suffer from an AAT deficiency, your body will not be able to produce sufficient amounts of this protein. As a result, your white blood cells can attack and damage your lungs. This is a genetic condition that affects nearly 100,000 people in the USA.

Symptoms of Emphysema

Emphysema does not show any significant symptoms in the beginning. It is a slowly progressing disease. As it develops, most people with emphysema will begin to experience shortness of breath. Initially, you may only experience this when doing something strenuous such as playing sports. Over time, you can find it hard to breathe while going about your day-to-day activities as well. Some other symptoms of emphysema include:

  • Chronic cough
  • Fatigue and trouble in concentrating
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty in falling asleep
  • Feeling a tightness in your chest
  • Phlegm
  • Swelling in your ankles
  • Wheezing

Treatment of Emphysema

Currently, there is no known cure for Emphysema. The treatment of Emphysema is based on providing relief from the symptoms associated with the condition and preventing it from progressing. This involves:

  • Prescribing medications that help control symptoms. The most common medications for treating emphysema include bronchodilators inhalers, corticosteroids, and antibiotics.
  • Getting oxygen therapy to ensure that your body receives an appropriate amount of oxygen to function
  • Undergoing pulmonary rehabilitation. This is a type of physical therapy that involves learning special breathing techniques and getting mental and emotional support. It has been shown to help people improve their stamina, conserve energy, and reduce breathlessness.
  • Getting lung surgery to remove damaged tissue

Let’s Sum It Up

Emphysema is a chronic condition that can obstruct airflow and make it difficult for you to breathe. People suffering from emphysema will experience shortness of breath. If you believe you are exhibiting symptoms of emphysema, you must get in touch with a doctor immediately. Getting treatment for emphysema can help you manage the condition better.

If you require further advice on the symptoms and treatment of emphysema, book an appointment with a physician at Health One Family Medicine.

Visit or call 469-262-5862 for more information.