Chest | Pulmonology | Emphysema (Disease)


Emphysema usually refers to a long-term, progressive disease of the lungs that primarily causes shortness of breath.

Subcutaneous emphysema refers to a condition when gas or air is present in the subcutaneous layer of the skin.

The symptoms of emphysema include:

(1) Breathlessness upon exertion, eventually breathlessness all the time

(2) Susceptibility to chest infections

(3) Sputum produced with chronic bronchitis

(4) Coughing

(5) Fatigue

(6) Expansion of the ribcage, due to expansion of the lungs

(7) Cyanosis, or a blue tinge to the skin due to lack of oxygen.

Causes and Risk factors

Smoking is the most common cause of emphysema, and the risk of emphysema increases the longer you smoke. Rarely, nonsmokers develop emphysema as the result of an inherited deficiency in alpha-1 antitrypsin, a protein made by the liver that helps protect lung tissue. Risk factors that can increase your risk of emphysema include exposure to secondhand smoke, chemical fumes, dust, and air pollution.

Many people with emphysema also have chronic bronchitis (characterised by a chronic and productive cough). A combination of the two lung diseases is commonly called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment for emphysema includes smoking cessation therapy, bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pulmonary rehabilitation to improve shortness of breath with coughing and breathing exercises. Healthy lifestyle practices, such as washing your hands well, exercising regularly, avoiding respiratory irritants and cold air, and refraining from smoking, can slow the progression of the disease and decrease the risk of complications. ...