Emphysema is a lung disease. The condition of emphysema makes it difficult to exhale air and empty the lungs when breathing. In turn, the lungs are unable to completely fill up with fresh air when inhaling. This leads to a decreased level of oxygen in the blood over time. Your body cells need oxygen to function.
Cigarette smoking is the major cause of emphysema. It is a long-term progressive disease. Patients with emphysema have shortness of breath and limited activity levels. Symptoms can reduce with treatments including oxygen. In severe cases, lung surgery or lung transplants may be treatment options.
The experience of emphysema can be an emotional process for people with the condition and their loved ones. It is important that you receive support from a positive source. Some people find comfort in their family, friends, co-workers, and faith. Lung disease support groups are another good option. They can be a good source of information and support from people who understand what you are experiencing. Ask your doctor for a lung disease support group locations in your area.
Am I at Risk
Certain risk factors may increase your likelihood of developing emphysema, although some people that develop the condition do not have any risk factors. People with all of the risk factors may never develop the disease; however, the chance of developing emphysema increases with the more risk factors you have. You should tell your doctor about your risk factors and discuss your concerns.
Risk factors for emphysema:
_____ Smoking is a major cause and significantly increases the risk of emphysema.
_____ Men are more likely to develop emphysema than women.
_____ Older age is associated with emphysema because lung function normally declines with age.
_____ Bronchiole asthma is a risk factor for emphysema.
_____ Air pollution contributes to emphysema.
_____ People with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency are at an increased risk for the disease.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin is a substance in the lungs that may protect against lung destruction leading to emphysema.
_____ Researchers suspect that emphysema may be inherited. If your close relatives have the condition, you may have an increased risk.
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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.