Emphysema is a form of chronic (long-term) lung disease. People with emphysema have difficulty breathing from a limitation in blowing air out. There are multiple causes of emphysema, but smoking is by far the most common. Emphysema is one of the main types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It’s called “obstructive” because people with emphysema exhale as if something were obstructing the flow of air. The other form of COPD is chronic bronchitis, which can also be caused by smoking. Although emphysema has no cure, quitting smoking reduces the speed at which the disease gets worse.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease symptoms are as follows:
• Coughing up more mucus than usual.
• A change in the colour or thickness of that mucus.
• More shortness of breath than usual.
• Greater tightness in your chest. Emphysema can't be cured, but treatments can help relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
Depending upon the severity of your symptoms, your doctor might suggest:
• Bronchodilators: These drugs can help relieve coughing, shortness of breath and breathing problems by relaxing constricted airways, but they're not as effective in treating emphysema as they are in treating asthma or chronic bronchitis
• Inhaled steroids: Corticosteroid drugs inhaled as aerosol sprays may help relieve shortness of breath. Prolonged use may weaken your bones and increase your risk of high blood pressure, cataracts and diabetes.
• Antibiotics: If you develop a bacterial infection, like acute bronchitis or pneumonia, antibiotics are appropriate.
The therapeutic methods are:
• Pulmonary rehabilitation. A pulmonary rehabilitation program can teach you breathing exercises and techniques that may help reduce your breathlessness and improve your ability to exercise.
• Nutrition therapy. You'll also receive advice about proper nutrition. In the early stages of emphysema, many people need to lose weight, while people with late-stage emphysema often need to gain weight.
• Supplemental oxygen. If you have severe emphysema with low blood oxygen levels, using oxygen regularly at home and when you exercise may provide some relief. Many people use oxygen 24 hours a day. It's usually administered via narrow tubing that fits into your nostrils.
The surgical methods are:
• Lung volume reduction surgery. In this procedure, surgeons remove small wedges of damaged lung tissue. Removing the diseased tissue helps the remaining lung tissue expand and work more efficiently and helps improve breathing. • Lung transplant. Lung transplantation is an option if you have severe emphysema and other options have failed.