Emphysema is a long-term, chronic disease. People with emphysema have breathing difficulty, especially with exhaling the air out of the lungs. The most common cause for emphysema is smoking and quitting smoking reduces the progression of the disease.
Curios about what you can find in a cigarette, beside trouble breathing?
Emphysema is part of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
What happens in emphysema?
Emphysema is diagnosed when the sensitive walls of the air sacs in the lungs are destroyed and usually it is irreversible; this damage occurs usually because of the toxins in cigarette smoke. The air become trapped in air pockets in the lungs and lungs become enlarged and breathing more difficult. They may break, damage and form scar tissue. During a lung function test, a person with emphysema will show a far longer time in emptying lungs than a person without emphysema.
Emphysema sufferers feel as there is an obstruction in emptying the lungs at exhalation and emphysema is the main form of COPD. The other form of COPD is chronic bronchitis.
Smoking is a major cause of emphysema but is not the only one. The deficiency of Alpha-1 antitrypsin is another cause found in about 3% of people suffering of emphysema, beside second hand smoke, air pollution, factory fumes and silica dust. Alpha-1 antitrypsin is a natural protein that circulates into blood and its main function is to keep the white cell from damaging normal tissue. From normal presence of alpha-1 antitrypsin white cells distinguish between normal tissue and invaders cells in infections.
What are the symptoms in emphysema?
There may be no symptoms for many years, but as disease progresses, shortness of breath (dyspnoea) may slowly develop. In early stages of emphysema dyspnoea may be present only with physical effort and later it may be present at rest as well. There may be recurring infections, pneumonia, chest infections, influenza and cold as the respiratory immunity is compromise.
What is the treatment in emphysema?
Emphysema is not a curable disease. However, symptoms can be relieved and slowed down its progression, with proper treatment.
Quit smoking – smoking is the main cause and stopping smoking will help considerable to slow down progression
Bronchodilators – such as Salbutamol, that relieves constriction in the air ways, breathing difficulty and coughing.
Steroid sprays – helps with shortness of breath; however, they must be used with caution because of the great side effects, especially in long-term usage. Side effects include weakened bones or osteoporosis, elevated blood pressure, weight gain, cataracts and diabetes.
Antibiotic therapy – recurrent chest infections require repetitive antibiotic treatments. These also have significant side effects in many people and decrease respiratory immunity.
Natural therapy – Of great use here are natural therapies, such as breathing exercises, rehabilitation techniques and home salt therapy. These help in strengthening the lungs and make breathing easy. The aerosol salt particles in home salt therapy help to clean the excess mucus production, reduce the inflammation and fight bacterial, fungal and viral infections. Offering long-term exposure during night, it reduces the recurring episodes of lung and chest infections and provides quicker recovery from pneumonia. Home salt therapy helps the body's natural healing force to fight better against emphysema and slows the progression of the disease.