What is Emphysema?
Emphysema is a long-term progressive disease in the lungs which generally causes shortness of breath. Lung tissue, which plays a role in the physical form of the lungs and respiratory function, in patients with emphysema is damaged.
Emphysema is one of the diseases belonging to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This disease is classified as obstructive lung disease because of lung tissue damage around the smaller airways, bronchioles. This damage will make the physical form of the lungs not normal when we exhale out. This abnormal shape will interfere with the exchange of dirty air and clean air, so that the incoming oxygen and carbon dioxide out of the bloodstream in the lungs is not optimal.
Gradually, lung tissue damage to emphysema will make it lose elasticity. The air sacs (alveoli) in the patient’s lungs are also damaged. Elasticity helps the air sacs to expand and deflate. Loss of elasticity will cause air to be trapped inside the bag, thereby reducing the space for fresh air entry.
Symptoms of Emphysema
Symptoms of Emphysema are something that is felt and told by the patient. Patients can develop emphysema for years without realizing the symptoms. The main symptom of emphysema is shortness of breath or better known as shortness of breath. Patients have difficulty breathing out. Generally these symptoms will be gradually developed.
Generally patients begin to avoid activities that cause shortness of breath. Emphysema can even cause shortness of breath even when the patient is sleeping.
In addition to shortness of breath, other common symptoms of enfisema are coughing and wheezing when breathing. Immediately see a doctor if you experience symptoms such as:
- The ability to exercise and undergo routine activity decreases gradually.
- Shortness of breath so unable to climb the stairs.
- Lips and nails become blue or gray.
- Become less mentally alert.
Causes of Emphysema
The main causes of emphysema is the smoke coming into the lungs. Cigarette smoke can cause the following things:
- Destroys the lung tissue causing obstruction.
- Causes inflammation and respiratory irritation that may aggravate emphysema.
- Weakens immune cells in the lungs, so they are ineffective against bacteria or cleanse the lungs of the particles contained in cigarettes.
In addition to cigarette smoke, there are several other causes of enfisema namely:
- Air pollution, which gives effects similar to cigarette smoke in the lungs.
- Lack of substance Alpha-1-antitrypsin, a protein that serves to protect the elastic structure of the lungs.
- Age. Lung tissue in elderly people will be more susceptible to damage so that it can cause emphysema.
Diagnosis of Emphysema
Diagnosis of Emphysema is a doctor’s step to identify a disease or condition that explains the symptoms and signs experienced by the patient. If the patient is suspected of having emphysema, the doctor will ask the patient to undergo several checks such as:
- Physical examination. The doctor will examine the breath sounds, heart rate, and general physical condition of the patient.
- Imaging tests, such as X-rays, will help to identify changes in the lungs that indicate emphysema.
- Blood tests, to check the condition of Alpha-1-antitrypsin substances, check the presence of infection, and see the ability of the lungs to channel oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the bloodstream.
- Lung function tests, will give the doctor detailed information about how the lung function of the patient to function.
Treatment and Prevention Emphysema
Before undergoing treatment, usually the doctor will advise all smokers emphysema patients to stop smoking habit. Because, stop smoking can stop the effects of damage due to emphysema.
Emphysema can not be cured, but treatment is done to relieve symptoms felt by the patient, and slow the progression of the disease. Emphysema handling there are several types, namely:
- Drugs. The doctor will prescribe several types of medicines such as bronchodilators, mucolytic, steroids, and antibiotics tailored to the severity of the disease.
- Therapy. Some types of therapy for people with emphysema are pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen supplements, and nutritional therapy.
- Surgery. There are two types of surgery performed for patients with severe emphysema ie surgery to reduce lung volume and lung transplant. Transplantation is performed only when other therapies fail and lung damage is severe.
The only thing you can do to prevent emphysema is to stop smoking. If you do not smoke, try your best not to inhale the cigarette smoke (being a passive smoker).