Emphysema is a form of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and affects the ability of the lungs to sufficiently function to exchange oxygen between the blood vessels and the alveoli of the lung. The alveoli are grape-like air sacs in the lungs and serve as the primary point of oxygen transfer to the blood and cardiovascular system. When these tiny air sacs are destroyed, large air pockets form in their place and air exchange becomes reduced.
Smoking Causes Emphysema
The main cause of emphysema is smoking. When individuals inhale toxic gasses from cigarettes or other tobacco containing items, the lung tissue forms an immune response to help protect the lungs from damage caused by the poisonous gasses. When this immune process occurs, protective cells are brought into the area to remove the offending gasses. These cells, upon cleaning up the gasses, secrete a substance which is also toxic to the lung tissue. After a period of time, the lungs are broken down by these cells and emphysema results.
The signs and symptoms of emphysema are dependent on the progression of the disease state. In patients with advanced disease, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and cough, which could be productive. Patients who have difficulty breathing may also have difficulty eating, so weight loss is commonly reported.
Emphysema Treatment Options
Treatment for emphysema starts by telling patients to quit smoking. When patients continue to smoke, the disease process can worsen and increase the severity of the disease. Smoking cessation programs and other stop-smoking alternatives are available to assist patients in quitting the habit. Many pulmonology professionals are well informed on the options available to aid patients in smoking cessation.
Other treatment options will be discussed between the patient and provider and will include bronchodilators to open the airways, supplemental oxygen, and steroid inhalers. Depending on the state of the disease, a number of options may be used in combination to help patients breath more easily and productively.
Pulmonary Associates, Las Vegas, Nevada
Patients who are interested in learning more about emphysema or other lung diseases should consult a pulmonology team, such as Pulmonary Associates in Las Vegas, Nevada. These experienced medical professionals have all of the knowledge and latest equipment necessary to answer questions and treat a variety of lung diseases. They are also available to help patients kick the smoking habit and offer support during the process.