Emphysema – Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis
Emphysema is a lung disease. This lung disease inhibits the lung from expelling all the air during breathing; thus some air is trapped in the lung. The flexible material which make up the lung is unable to expel this stale air so when the persons inhale not enough new air or fresh oxygen goes into the lungs. This inhibits the supply of oxygen needed by the body to function to its maximum, and, also causes the person to experience shortness of breath. This is in effect what it is; because of the malfunctioning of the lung, breath is short. The disease occurs because the lung is damaged, and this condition is permanent.
What are the Causes of Emphysema
Emphysema is caused by long-term exposure to irritants that are inhaled daily. These irritants are cigarette smoke, factory smoke emissions, polluted air, and marijuana smoke. Smoking and long-term smoking is generally the main cause of emphysema. Cigarette smoking is proudly responsible for 90% of the diagnosed emphysema cases. There is also another cause of this disease which is 1-antitrypsin deficiency in the body. This is a protein that is necessary for protecting the alveoli of the lung. Deficiency of this protein is genetic; which means persons are born with this condition. Hence, when excessive smoking is a part of the diet, will definitely cause emphysema.
Symptoms of Emphysema
Coughing and shortness of breath are generally symptoms of emphysema. Shortness of breath is noticed when engaged in much physical activity; the symptoms may occur during sleeping also. This occurs when the disease has reached an advanced stage. Other conditions of advanced stages of the disease are wheezing, lots of phlegm, recurring lung infections, loss of weight and appetite, sleeplessness, headaches, depression, blueness of the fingers and lips are just some of the symptoms of this horrible disease.
Diagnosis of Emphysema
Although excessive coughing and shortness of breath are the noticeable symptoms of emphysema, doctors will perform both physical and lab tests to diagnose. If the person has a family history of the protein deficiency 1-antitrypsin, a lab test is generally used to diagnose emphysema. If smoking is deemed to be the cause of the symptoms then a lung function test is done. For this test, the patient is required to blow quick and hard into a tube which is attached to the machine that measures the amount of air expelled and the speed. Other tests the doctor may use is an x-ray or imaging to take pictures of the lung for it to be assessed, also CT scan may be used.