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What does emphysema do: Emphysema | American Lung Association


What is emphysema? Symptoms & treatment

When you’re healthy, you don’t really give breathing a second thought, let alone a first. Sure, it’s one of life’s essential functions, but breathing in and out is so automatic (and hardwired into our brains) that it doesn’t really give you a reason to think about it. That is, until something goes wrong, and it gets harder to take air in and out.

One condition that can make breathing a challenge is emphysema, where damage in your lungs makes it more difficult to bring oxygen into your body. It’s a serious disease that affects over 3 million people in the U.S. – it’s also one of the most preventable.

We’ll go over what emphysema is and how it relates to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We’ll also tell you the main causes, symptoms and stages of emphysema, and give you a rundown on available treatments.

What is emphysema?

Pulmonary emphysema is a long-term lung health condition that causes shortness of breath. Over time, the air sacs in the lungs, also called alveoli, become damaged. The inner walls of these air sacs weaken and rupture, which creates larger air spaces in the lungs. When this happens, the surface area of the lungs is reduced, and so is the amount of oxygen that makes it to the bloodstream.

Emphysema is a chronic illness, and it can develop slowly over time. There isn’t a way to repair or regrow the damaged lung tissue, but there are ways to treat it to live more comfortably with the disease. These treatments can also help control symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

Types of emphysema

There are several different types of emphysema that can affect different areas of the lungs, as well as the body:

  • Centrilobular emphysema (CLE) – CLE is the most common type of emphysema, and it occurs in the upper sections, or lobes, of the lungs.
  • Panlobular emphysema (PLE) – PLE affects the lungs as a whole but can affect the lower section of the lungs more severely.
  • Paraseptal emphysema (PSE) – PSE damages the air sacs in the outermost part of the lungs, but with more severe forms of PSE, damage can occur in other parts of the lungs too.
  • Bullous emphysema – This form of emphysema occurs when giant, bubble-like cavities filled with fluid or air develop in the lungs.
  • Subcutaneous emphysema – This is a rarer form of emphysema, where air or gas gets under skin tissue. It commonly occurs in the chest, neck or face, but it can also develop in other areas of the body. This form of emphysema isn’t typically caused by smoking or other lung irritants but brought on by certain medical procedures or injuries to the body, among others.

What is the difference between emphysema and COPD?

First, what exactly is COPD? Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a group of lung diseases that make breathing difficult, and gradually worsens over time. COPD typically occurs in people who have a history of smoking, but it can also occur with long-term exposure to lung irritants like secondhand smoke or air pollution.

Emphysema and chronic bronchitis, where the lining of airways is constantly irritated and inflamed, are the two most common conditions that contribute to COPD. Both conditions make breathing harder, leading to shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing. People diagnosed with COPD are frequently diagnosed with both emphysema and chronic bronchitis, but they can occur separately.

What causes emphysema?

Emphysema can be caused by several things, but the four most common are:


This is the number one cause of emphysema. Smoking destroys lung tissue and irritates airways, causing inflammation and damage that results in swollen airways, difficulty clearing airways and increased mucus production.

Long-term exposure to lung irritants

Some examples of lung irritants include air pollution, secondhand smoke and occupational lung irritants, such as coal or exhaust fumes.


Emphysema is most commonly seen in people 40 years of age or older, especially in those who smoked early on in life, still smoke or had long-term exposure to lung irritants. Emphysema can occur in young adults, but as emphysema generally develops slowly, older adults are more at risk.


It’s rare, but an inherited genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency that weakens the lungs, can cause emphysema. Also, people with a history of smoking are more likely to develop emphysema if they have a family history of COPD.

Symptoms of emphysema

Because emphysema usually progresses slowly, symptoms can take a while to appear – a person can actually have emphysema for years and not know it. Early symptoms are generally mild and become more severe as the disease progresses. Symptoms or signs of emphysema can include:

  • A frequent and persistent cough
  • A cough that produces a lot of mucus
  • Frequent respiratory infections, like colds or the flu
  • Shortness of breath during daily activities and physical activity
  • Wheezing while breathing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleep problems
  • Depression
  • Unexplained weight loss

What does emphysema feel like?

Some of the first symptoms that can appear are shortness of breath and ongoing fatigue. These symptoms alone can be dismissed as minor or related to other illnesses, so when should you see your doctor? If breathing becomes more difficult even while not being physically active, or lung sounds change – from typical breathing to wheezing, clicking or crackling – it may be time to schedule a visit.

Diagnosing emphysema

A visit to the doctor will help diagnose emphysema with a few steps. Your doctor may recommend a chest X-ray, but an X-ray doesn’t always confirm a diagnosis. It can, however, rule out other causes of shortness of breath, such as pneumonia or asthma, and help diagnose advanced stages of emphysema.

Since an X-ray doesn’t always confirm diagnosis, your doctor may also recommend a computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan takes X-ray images from multiple directions to create many different views of internal organs, helping to detect and diagnose emphysema.

Another step your doctor may take is to order a lab blood test, where blood is tested to determine how well lungs are transferring oxygen to your bloodstream, and how well they’re removing carbon dioxide.

Finally, your doctor may order lung function tests, called pulmonary function tests (PFTs). PFTs, such as spirometry, nitric oxide tests and arterial blood gas tests, are noninvasive tests that measure lung capacity, how well air flows in and out of the lungs, and how well lungs deliver oxygen to the bloodstream.

Why early detection of emphysema is important

Since emphysema can’t be reversed like other lung conditions, early detection is important. Emphysema symptoms worsen over time, and early detection can slow progression of symptoms and the disease, leading to improved quality of life. It can also help identify causes of the disease so you can limit exposure to them.

The four stages of emphysema

Emphysema is classified into four stages: early, moderate, severe and very severe. Doctors use these stages to describe the progression of the disease and provide the appropriate treatment for each stage.

Early emphysema

If someone is at risk for emphysema, like those with a history of smoking, it’s important to keep an eye out for symptoms such as a nagging cough or shortness of breath, even if it’s mild. Although it’s easy to dismiss the early warning signs. But catching emphysema in this stage may help slow progression, allowing you to maintain your health for longer.

Moderate emphysema

This stage occurs when symptoms such as frequent coughing, feeling tired, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping and wheezing affect daily life. Flare-ups of symptoms, where they intensify for a few days, may occur.

Severe emphysema

In this stage, symptoms become more severe: intensified shortness of breath, tiredness and coughing, and more frequent flare-ups. Also, there may be new signs of emphysema progression, such as more frequent respiratory infections, like a cold or the flu, tightness of the chest, trouble catching your breath and others.

Very severe emphysema

Emphysema likely will be affecting every activity in day-to-day life, and it may be difficult to breath even when not being physically active. Chronic respiratory failure may occur – which means not enough oxygen is moving from the lungs to blood, and when the lungs aren’t taking enough carbon dioxide out of the blood.

Treatments for emphysema

While there isn’t a cure for emphysema, there are treatments that may help slow the progression of the disease and help people with the disease to live more comfortably.

Pulmonary rehabilitation

The goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to promote healthy lifestyle changes –using exercise, lifestyle education and diet to help improve quality of life and ability to exercise.

Oxygen therapy

If emphysema causes low levels of oxygen in the blood, oxygen therapy may help. With oxygen therapy, supplemental oxygen can help deliver more oxygen to the lungs and bloodstream.

Emphysema medications

These may include bronchodilators to relax airways and help breathing problems, inhaled steroids, aerosol sprays that reduce inflammation and help shortness of breath, and antibiotics to treat bacterial infections.


If the disease has progressed to the later stages, doctors may recommend lung volume reduction surgery, where damaged lung tissue is removed. If the damage is severe and other treatments haven’t worked, a lung transplant may be an option.

Lifestyle changes

Making changes to your lifestyle is easier said than done, but it’s the most important way to manage emphysema and keep living your life. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help – it’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

Stop smoking the right way for you

The number one priority is to figure out the best way to stop. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation strategies – they may be able to prescribe gum, inhalers, patches or prescription medicines to help.

Avoid inhaled irritants

Avoiding air pollution, smoke from wood-burning fireplaces and dust may help you breathe a little easier.

Defend against infections

Washing your hands frequently when out in public, using hand sanitizer, avoiding people with respiratory illnesses, such as a cold or the flu, and getting an annual flu vaccination may help.

Stay active

Talk to your doctor, if necessary, to figure out a fitness regimen that works for you. Regular exercise can help decrease emphysema symptoms, improve circulation and help your body better use oxygen, strengthen your heart, improve mental health and so much more.

Eat well

This is an easy way to keep your immune system strong. Cutting back on red meat, processed foods and sugar, and eating a diet with more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and olive oil may help reduce inflammation. Nutritional supplements may also be helpful – talk to your doctor about your options and what fits for your lifestyle.

When should you talk to your doctor?

Early detection is the best way to control your symptoms and the progression of emphysema. If you have shortness of breath or a history of smoking, reach out to your doctor sooner rather than later. They care about your respiratory health and will help you come up with a plan so you can live your best life.

Make an appointment

What Is It, Symptoms, Causes, and More

Emphysema is a disease of the lungs. It occurs most often in people who smoke, but it also occurs in people who regularly breathe in irritants.

Emphysema destroys alveoli, which are air sacs in the lungs. The air sacs weaken and eventually break, which reduces the surface area of the lungs and the amount of oxygen that can reach the bloodstream. This makes it harder to breathe, especially when exercising. Emphysema also causes the lungs to lose their elasticity.

Emphysema is one of the two most common conditions that fall under the umbrella term chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The other major COPD condition is chronic bronchitis. Emphysema is an irreversible condition, so treatment aims to slow its progression and minimize symptoms.

Some people have emphysema for years without knowing it. Some of its first signs are shortness of breath and coughing, especially during exercise or physical exertion. This continues to get worse until breathing is difficult all the time, even when resting.

Other symptoms may include:

  • exhaustion
  • weight loss
  • depression

Some people may develop bluish-gray lips or fingernails from lack of oxygen. If this happens, seek medical attention immediately.

According to the American Lung Association, 2 million adults (1.6 percent of people ages 18 years or older) had emphysema in 2018.

Rates were higher among males, non-Hispanic white people, and those over the age of 65. However, the rates among females have been increasing in recent decades, so the gap between the sexes has been decreasing.

Smoking tobacco is the main cause of emphysema. The more you smoke, the higher your risk of developing emphysema. This includes smoking cannabis.

Smoking leads to the death of more than 480,000 Americans a year, and 80 percent of those deaths are caused by COPD, including emphysema. Exposure to secondhand smoke also increases your risk of developing emphysema.

Other causes of, as well as potential risk factors for developing emphysema, may include:

  • exposure to high pollution chemical fumes or lung irritants
  • a genetic condition called alpha-1 deficiency can lead to a rare form of emphysema called alpha-1 deficiency-related emphysema.
  • history of childhood respiratory infections
  • a compromised immune system, especially as a result of HIV
  • rare disorders such as Marfan syndrome.

Your doctor will begin by getting your background and medical history, asking in particular whether you smoke and whether you’re around hazardous fumes or pollutants at work or at home.

Various tests can detect emphysema, including:

  • imaging tests, such as X-rays and CT scans, to look at your lungs
  • blood tests, to determine how well your lungs are transferring oxygen
  • pulse oximetry, to measure the oxygen content of your blood
  • lung function tests, which measure how much air your lungs can breathe in and out and how well your lungs deliver oxygen into your bloodstream
  • arterial blood gas tests, to measure the amount of blood and carbon dioxide in your blood
  • electrocardiogram (ECG), to check heart function and rule out heart disease

When emphysema becomes severe or isn’t properly treated, serious complications may occur. These may include:

  • pneumonia, which can bacterial or viral
  • many respiratory tract infections
  • cor pulmonale, which is failure of the right side of the heart
  • pneumothorax, which is when air collects between the lungs and the chest cavity that can lead to lung collapse
  • respiratory acidosis, which is when the lungs can’t obtain enough oxygen, leading to coma
  • hypoxemia, which is when the lungs can’t adequately oxygenate the blood

There’s no cure for emphysema. Treatment aims to reduce symptoms and slow the progression of the disease with medications, therapies, or surgeries.

If you smoke, the first step in treating emphysema is to quit smoking. You may need medications to help you withdraw from nicotine. Consider discussing a cessation plan with your doctor.


Various medications can help treat the disease, including:

  • bronchodilators, which help open air passages, making breathing easier and relieving coughing and shortness of breath
  • steroids, which alleviate shortness of breath
  • antibiotics, which fight infections that can make the condition worse

All of these medications can be taken orally or inhaled.


Pulmonary rehabilitation or moderate exercise such as walking can strengthen breathing muscles and alleviate symptoms, making it easier to breathe and be physically active. Yoga, tai chi, and deep breathing exercises can also help relieve symptoms.

Oxygen therapy can help make breathing easier. People with severe emphysema may need oxygen 24 hours a day.


Lung volume reduction surgery may be used to remove small parts of damaged lung, and a lung transplant can replace the entire lung. These are rare surgeries used only for people with severe emphysema.

Other treatments

Emphysema might cause you to become underweight. Eating foods rich in vitamins A, C, and E, like fruits and vegetables, is recommended to improve your overall health.

Getting vaccinated against certain infections, such as pneumonia, can help prevent you from getting an infection that could complicate emphysema. These infections include pneumonia, influenza, and COVID-19.

You may also experience anxiety and depression if you aren’t as active as you used to be. Joining a support group can help you connect with others who have the disease and share similar experiences. This can help you realize that you aren’t alone in fighting the disease.

Since emphysema is mainly caused by smoking tobacco, the best way to prevent it is to refrain from smoking. It’s also important to stay away from harmful chemicals and fumes as well as heavy pollution.

The outlook for people with emphysema varies based on its severity. There’s no cure for the disease, and it worsens with time, but you can slow its progression.

As a rule, smoking cigarettes speeds up the disease, so quitting is important.

Early detection of the disease is key, because people with emphysema can develop life threatening conditions when the lungs and heart become damaged over time.

It’s important to stay healthy by eating well and getting exercise. With the aid of medications and therapies, you can live a long, healthy life with emphysema.

Emphysema: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment


  • 1 Emphysema: symptoms, diagnosis and effective treatment
    • 1.1 Emphysema: concept and causes
    • 1.2 Symptoms of emphysema
    • 9 0005 1.3 Diagnosis of pulmonary emphysema

    • 1.4 Causes of pulmonary emphysema
    • 1.5 Factors that can increase the manifestation of pulmonary emphysema
    • 1.6 How is pulmonary emphysema treated?
    • 1.7 Drugs for the treatment of emphysema
      • 1.7.1 Bronchodilators
      • 1.7.2 Glucocorticosteroids
      • 1.7.3 Antibiotics
    • 1.8 Procedures that help with pulmonary emphysema
      • 1.8.1 1. Oxygen therapy
      • 1.8. 2 2. Lung unloading with special devices
      • 1.8.3 3. Chest massage
      • 1.8.4 4. Respiratory gymnastics
    • 1.9 Is it possible to cure pulmonary emphysema completely?
    • 1.10 What preventive measures help prevent emphysema?
    • 1. 11 Sequelae of emphysema
    • 1.12 Related videos:
    • 1.13 Q&A:
        • What is pulmonary emphysema?
        • What are the symptoms of emphysema?
        • How is emphysema diagnosed?
        • Can smoking cause emphysema?
        • What are the treatment options for pulmonary emphysema?
        • Can emphysema be prevented?

Learn about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of emphysema. Get useful information about the causes of the disease and effective methods of dealing with it.

Pulmonary emphysema is a chronic disease in which the firmness and elasticity of the lung tissue is lost, which leads to the expansion of air spaces and disruption of normal respiratory function.

Basically, emphysema affects older people and is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is also called COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease combined with emphysema.

This article is devoted to the consideration of this disease, its main symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment methods that will allow you to understand the problem in more detail and prevent its occurrence in the future.

Emphysema: concept and causes

Emphysema is a chronic disease of the respiratory system that leads to irreversible changes in the lung tissue. As a result of such changes, the lungs lose their elasticity, expand and lose their functionality. This leads to breathing difficulties and a deterioration in the general condition of the body.

The risk of developing emphysema is greatly increased if a person leads an unhealthy lifestyle, suffers from lung disease, or frequently comes into contact with substances that affect the respiratory system. Based on this, measures should be taken to prevent the occurrence of the disease.

Important: Emphysema is a very serious disease that requires qualified treatment. The earlier the disease is detected and diagnosed, the greater the chances for its effective treatment and prevention of severe complications.

Symptoms of pulmonary emphysema

Emphysema is a chronic disease that leads to the destruction of the walls of the alveoli, preventing them from functioning properly. Patients with emphysema experience a variety of symptoms including:

  • Cough – Usually dry and without sputum, the cough may be a reaction to irritants in the air, including cigarette smoke, as well as mugwort, car exhaust and other particles.
  • Breathing problems – Patients with emphysema often have difficulty breathing, especially during exercise.
  • Fatigue and weakness – these symptoms may be due to the fact that the body is fighting for enough oxygen, which is necessary for the proper functioning of the organs.
  • Chest pain – if chest pain occurs when breathing, this may be due to emphysema, especially if accompanied by difficulty breathing.
  • Weight Loss – Patients with emphysema may lose weight due to difficulty eating and absorbing nutrients.

If you experience these symptoms, especially if you are a smoker or work in an environment with high concentrations of harmful substances in the air, see a specialist for diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis of pulmonary emphysema

Diagnosis of pulmonary emphysema begins with anamnesis and examination of the patient for characteristic symptoms. Important signs of the disease are cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and noisy breathing.

A number of additional tests, such as x-rays, computed tomography, spirometry, and blood gas analysis, may be done to confirm the diagnosis.

  1. Radiography is the first and most accessible method for diagnosing emphysema. It allows you to detect an increase in lung volume and a decrease in its density.
  2. Computed tomography (CT) provides more detailed information about the condition of the lungs and can reveal small changes in lung tissue.
  3. Spirometry is a method that measures the volume and flow rate of inhalation and exhalation. It allows you to determine the presence of airway obstruction.
  4. Blood gas analysis measures the level of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. This method allows you to determine the degree of respiratory failure.

The combination of these methods allows you to get a complete picture of the disease and determine the further tactics of treating the patient.

Causes of emphysema

Emphysema is a disease that is associated with the destruction of lung tissue and insufficient exchange of gases in the body. Emphysema can be caused by several factors:

  • Smoking. This is one of the main causes of emphysema. Tobacco smoke contains a large amount of harmful substances that destroy lung tissue and disrupt their function.
  • Genetic predisposition. Some people may be susceptible to the destruction of lung tissue at the genetic level, which can lead to the development of emphysema even without the involvement of other factors.
  • Polluted environment. Exposure to various chemicals and toxic substances in the air may increase the risk of developing the disease.
  • Professional activity. Some occupations that involve exposure to toxic substances may increase the risk of developing emphysema.

Understanding the causes of emphysema will help you take steps to prevent it and detect it early, which increases the effectiveness of treatment. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid unhealthy habits such as smoking to reduce the risk of disease.

Factors that can increase the manifestation of emphysema

Emphysema is a serious disease in which the alveoli responsible for gas exchange are affected. Some factors can increase the manifestations of this disease. Among them:

  • Smoking is one of the most prominent and well-known aggravators of emphysema. Tobacco smoking destroys lung tissue, which can cause blisters to form on the surface of the lungs.
  • Air pollution – inhalation has harmful effects on lung tissue, which may increase the symptoms of emphysema.
  • Genetic factors – there is a hereditary predisposition to emphysema, so if you have relatives with this disease, your risk of developing it is also increased.
  • Inflammatory diseases – such as bronchitis, may exacerbate emphysema.
  • Non-specific airway obstruction – this can also affect the development of emphysema, as it is associated with impaired gas exchange in the lungs.

Avoiding these factors is important for those at risk of developing emphysema. In addition, regular medical monitoring will help to identify the disease in a timely manner and start treatment according to the recommendations of doctors.

How is emphysema treated?

Treatment for emphysema depends on the severity of the disease and may include medication, exercise, and, in severe cases, surgery.

In addition, exercise can also help reduce the symptoms of emphysema, improve quality of life, and improve lung function. Surgical intervention can be used only in severe cases, when conservative treatment does not give the desired effect.

It is also very important to avoid smoking and exposure to toxic substances, as they can worsen the condition of the lungs. Regular monitoring by a doctor and compliance with all the recommendations of medical personnel are also important aspects of the successful treatment of emphysema.

  • Drug therapy
  • Physical exercise
  • Surgery

Drugs for the treatment of emphysema

Emphysema is a chronic disease and treatment is aimed at improving the quality of life of the patient and preventing disease progression. For this, various groups of drugs are used.


These medicines help to relax the muscles in the bronchial tubes, widening them, making it easier to breathe. They can be presented as inhalation preparations in the form of sprays, aerosols or powders for inhalation. The main drugs in this group are beta-agonists, anticholinergics and methylxanthines.


These inhaled sprays or tablets can help reduce inflammation in the lungs and reduce mucus, which can improve breathing and reduce flare-ups. However, long-term use of glucocorticosteroids is associated with a number of side effects such as osteoporosis, weight gain, and immune system deterioration.


Antibiotics may be used to treat infections that can aggravate emphysema. However, their use should only be carried out under the direction of a physician after confirmation of the presence of a bacterial infection, so as not to produce antibiotic resistance in the patient.

The main principle of the treatment of pulmonary emphysema is an individual approach to each patient. Medicines can be combined depending on the severity of the disease, the presence of concomitant diseases and other factors. Treatment should be carried out only under the supervision of a physician who regularly assesses the patient’s condition and adjusts the treatment regimen.

Procedures that help with pulmonary emphysema

1. Oxygen therapy

One of the main symptoms of pulmonary emphysema is oxygen starvation. Oxygen therapy is a way to maintain the optimal level of oxygen in the patient’s body with the help of oxygen equipment. The main goal of oxygen therapy is to maintain oxygen saturation of at least 90% and reduce the degree to which the lungs have to work to pump air.

2. Unloading lungs with special devices

Typically, patients with emphysema experience the same kind of difficulty breathing and fatigue as an athlete exercising in a high altitude area. Therefore, for the treatment of such patients, special devices are used to unload the airways. They allow you to keep the most open position of the larynx and airways, thus reducing the degree of difficulty in breathing.

3. Chest massage

Chest massage is a technique in which the massage therapist gently manipulates the patient’s chest. It helps to soften and relax the muscles of the chest and therefore may improve the respiratory function of emphysema. However, before applying this procedure, it is necessary to consult a specialist and recommend a pulmonologist.

4. Respiratory exercises

One of the main causes of pulmonary emphysema is a deterioration in the ability of the lungs to bear the load. Regular respiratory exercises help to increase the level of physical activity and improve the quality of life of patients with emphysema. The results of such gymnastics may be few, but in general, it improves the quality of life of patients.

Can emphysema be completely cured?

Emphysema is a chronic disease that destroys lung tissue. As a result, the lungs lose their elasticity and cannot function properly.

Emphysema is often treated with drugs that dilate the bronchi and improve lung function. Physiotherapy and rehabilitation courses may also be prescribed.

In some cases, surgery may be required, such as pulmonary resection growth. However, such operations are performed only in the most severe cases and the choice of treatment always depends on the individual situation of the patient.

In any case, regular monitoring of the condition of the lungs and following all the doctor’s recommendations will help improve the life of a patient with pulmonary emphysema.

What preventive measures can help prevent emphysema?

Pulmonary emphysema is a serious disease that leads to a deterioration in the patient’s life. However, there are preventive measures that help prevent the development of this disease.

  • Smoking cessation . This is one of the most important measures to prevent emphysema. Smoking is the main cause of the disease.
  • Strengthening the immune system . This helps prevent the development of infections that can lead to emphysema.
  • Avoiding polluted air . Harmful substances in the air can adversely affect lung health.
  • Healthy lifestyle . Regular exercise, proper nutrition and enough sleep help maintain the health of the lungs and the whole body as a whole.

If you follow these preventive measures, you can prevent the development of emphysema and keep your lungs healthy for many years.

Sequelae of emphysema

Emphysema is a chronic disease that leads to destruction of the retina of the lung vesicles. This can cause a decrease in the functional state of the lungs and restriction of respiratory capacity.

Among the main consequences of pulmonary emphysema are:

  • Oxygen starvation. Complete or partial destruction of the walls of the bubbles in the lungs reduces their ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide, which leads to hypoxia of tissues and organs.
  • Respiratory failure. In pulmonary emphysema, a bulky number of small vesicles function, which reduces cell turnover and has a negative effect on lung reserve capacity.
  • Emphysematous bullous pneumothorax. The entry of air into the pleural cavity causes pressure on the lung tissue and contributes to the compression of the cor pulmonale.
  • Increased risk of respiratory infections. Lung tissue with a light structure is the conditions for the penetration of bacteria and viruses into the body.

Emphysema is a serious and progressive disease that requires immediate treatment. Regular medical examinations and adherence to the doctor’s recommendations are the main ways to prevent this disease.

Related videos:


What is pulmonary emphysema?

Emphysema is a chronic disease in which the walls of the alveoli collapse, leading to reduced gas exchange surfaces and poor lung function.

What are the symptoms of emphysema?

The main symptoms of emphysema are shortness of breath, cough, copious sputum, fatigue, chest enlargement and weight loss.

How is emphysema diagnosed?

Diagnosis of emphysema includes chest x-ray, computed tomography, physical tests, and blood tests.

Can smoking cause emphysema?

Yes, smoking is one of the most important causes of emphysema.

What are the treatment options for emphysema?

Treatment for emphysema includes medication, oxygen therapy, physical rehabilitation, lifestyle changes, and surgery in extreme cases.

Can emphysema be prevented?

Emphysema can be prevented by avoiding smoking, a healthy lifestyle, and regular medical check-ups to detect early lung disease.

Pulmonary emphysema – symptoms and treatment at ON CLINIC Ryazan

It is one of the most common chronic lung diseases. It is characterized by a violation of normal gas exchange and difficulty in the breathing process. Pulmonologists note with concern that pulmonary emphysema is becoming more common – the risk of developing this disease is especially high in patients over 55 years of age.

The causes of emphysema include primarily bronchitis in a chronic course. In the vast majority of cases, this form of the disease develops in people of working age – from 30 to 60 years – age; while in men it occurs almost three times more often than in women. Over time, bronchitis is highly likely to lead to complications such as emphysema.

Other factors provoking the development of this disease in a patient:

  • smoking;
  • residence or stay for a long time in a region with unfavorable environmental conditions;
  • employment in enterprises that specialize in the extraction and processing of coal, asbestos, silicon, etc. Inhalation of the smallest particles of these natural minerals is very harmful to the body in general and to lung health in particular;
  • the patient has a history of tuberculosis and other diseases affecting the lungs;
  • unfavorable heredity – if bullous emphysema was detected in one of the patient’s close relatives, then he is also at risk;
  • In addition, in some cases, emphysema, which provokes serious respiratory failure, can develop in the absence of previous pathologies of the respiratory system. In this case, the patient is diagnosed with Primary Emphysema.

How does emphysema develop?

The inflammatory process that continues for a long time provokes the appearance of irreversible changes in the wall of the bronchi. The airways narrow, their conductivity worsens. At the same time, the tissue that makes up the lungs loses its elasticity. Even after the patient makes a full exhalation, they remain in excess of the normal volume of air. The lungs are overstretched, gas exchange in the blood worsens. A decrease in the efficiency of removing carbon dioxide from the patient’s body provokes the development of shortness of breath in him.

The stretched tissue of the bronchi and lungs, which is no longer able to perform its functions, is gradually replaced by connective tissue. This leads to irreversible narrowing of the bronchi. Pathological changes in the lung tissue are air sacs of various diameters, which can be single or scattered over the entire surface of the lungs.

Symptoms of emphysema

The development of this pathology in a patient may be indicated by the presence of the following symptoms:

  • shortness of breath, which in especially advanced cases does not disappear even at rest. At first, it appears only in the cold season at the time of physical activity. Patients suffering from shortness of breath are characterized by a short inhalation with effort and a long exhalation. When breathing, they can puff out their cheeks;
  • severe pallor of the skin. Moreover, the tongue, lips and nail plates of the patient may have a bluish tint;
  • over time, the chest of a patient with emphysema expands and becomes barrel-shaped, and the amplitude of its movements during breathing, on the contrary, decreases;
  • the intercostal spaces and the area above the patient’s collarbones may expand and even bulge.

In the absence of treatment, emphysema can provoke the development of severe, threatening his performance and even life-threatening conditions in a patient. It can be pneumothorax, respiratory and heart failure, etc.

Treatment of emphysema in ON CLINIC Ryazan

The most important event, without which the effectiveness of the treatment of pulmonary emphysema prescribed by a doctor tends to zero, is quitting smoking. At the same time, it is precisely the simultaneous rejection of cigarettes that can quickly improve the patient’s condition, and not a gradual decrease in their number.

It is regrettable to realize this, today this disease belongs to the category of incurable. However, the patient’s condition and quality of life can be significantly improved in the following ways:

  • oxygen therapy – the use of oxygen cocktails and air inhalation, which includes an increased concentration of oxygen;
  • daily performance of special breathing exercises by the patient;
  • therapy aimed at treating the underlying disease that provoked the development of emphysema – for example, chronic bronchitis, the presence of which can cause the constant spread of infection throughout the body.