Have you been feeling difficulties in breathing lately? If yes, you could be suffering from Emphysema. Though there are many other symptoms of the disease, but breathing problems is the most common symptom, as Emphysema is directly related to the lung, and your ability to breathe. You should never neglect the symptoms of Emphysema - approach a pulmonologist and get it diagnosed quickly so that you can opt for the best treatment.
Emphysema is a disease of the lungs where the organ responsible for breathing is not able to expel air properly. There are tissues in the lungs that support the function and shape of the lungs, and when you are showing Emphysema symptoms, it means that these tissues are damaged. Tissue damage obstructs the flow of air. And since the passages are blocked, the body asks you to put more effort, and this is what causes the shortness of breath. Smoking, which causes bronchitis, is also a main cause of Emphysema.
The emphysema symptoms arise from two primary causes. Firstly, you will experience shortness of breath because there are obstructions in air passage to the lungs. And secondly the carbon monoxide levels in the body go up when the alveoli or the tissues are damaged. You will also need to remember that the symptoms tend to vary a lot from one person to another.
- Breathing problems - This is the primary Emphysema symptom. So if you are experiencing shortness of breath for no apparent reason, you should consult your doctor immediately.
- Chronic cough - If you smoke cigarettes, it is more likely that you will become a victim than someone who doesn't. Many smokers have a chronic cough, and it is also associated with Emphysema. This cough can be without or with sputum.
- Rapid breathing - You can be suffering from Emphysema even if you do not show shortness of breathing. There are some who actually breathe rapidly and this condition is known as Tachypnea.
- Wheezing - Wheezing is among the most common symptoms of Emphysema as most victims are affected. Wheezing refers to a whistling kind of a sound when you are breathing.
- Reduced tolerance to exercise - If you are suffering from this disease, you will probably not be able to cope with a busy exercise schedule. Also try to limit your physical activities as much as you can. Take care because this seems to become worse with time.
- Appetite loss - Many victims of Emphysema lose their appetite too. However often it can be difficult to associate this to Emphysema.
- Fever - Viral fever can also be a sign of Emphysema, particularly if the lung itself is also affected because of a bacterial infection, which is often the case.
Since smoking is one of the major contributing factors for emphysema, one must quit smoking to prevent this condition. In case of people who have already been diagnosed with this disease, giving up this habit might help slow down the progression of this lung condition. It is advisable to minimize one's exposure to environmental pollutants. Since this condition inhibits proper air exchange and causes shortness of breath, the use of bronchodilators might prove beneficial. These medications facilitate better air exchange and allow the air passages to open fully. Supplemental oxygen might be required in severe cases. Antibiotics and steroids might be prescribed to treat emphysema associated with asthma and bronchitis. Performing certain breathing exercises might also help.
If you are a smoker and have been suffering from the aforementioned symptoms, you must get yourself medically examined at the earliest. Chest X-ray, pulmonary function tests, arterial blood gases analysis, and sputum analysis are some of the diagnostic tests that are conducted to diagnose emphysema.