Emphysema

healthy vs emphysema lungs

Last Updated May 15th, 2019

Emphysema – understanding the respiratory disease

Emphysema is a type of COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. As the name suggests, it is caused by obstructions in the respiratory tract which mainly causes difficulty in breathing. By nature, this is a long-term condition where the symptoms worsen over time. As the disease progresses, the irreversible damage to the lungs could lead to severe disability and even death in many patients.

healthy vs emphysema lungsEmphysema affects the lungs and massively changes its anatomy. Lungs are responsible for the vital exchange of gases between the human body and external surrounding. The lung tissues are made up of bronchioles which are tiny air pathways. Due to over-inflation of the air sacs or alveoli, these tissues get irreversibly damaged. Owing to this damage, the bronchioles are unable to release air out of the lungs, severely limiting the individual’s capacity to breathe.

Under normal conditions, human lungs resemble a sponge, both in appearance and function.

The primary function of lungs is to absorb oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.

This function is made possible by the coordinated working of millions of airways stretching and relaxing to make way for thegaseous exchange.

 

Upon the onset of emphysema, the “spongy-ness” of the lungs is significantly reduced which leads to air being trapped in it.In addition to the bronchiole damage, emphysema also leads to poor blood flow to the lungs which further hinders normal breathing.This condition usually occurs in tandem with chronic bronchitis (inflammation of bronchioles). Hence the umbrella term COPD is used to refer to these ailments. COPD is one of the leading causes of deaths in the USA.

 

Emphysema – causes and risk factors

The two causes which primarily lead to the onset of emphysema are Smoking and AAT deficiency.

Emphysema smokingCigarette smoking is one of the most significant factors linked to the occurrence of emphysema.

Tobacco and nicotine intake through smoking render severe lung damage in two distinct ways.

Firstly, smoking largely reduces the lung’s ability to clear mucous-related secretions through cilia.

This inevitably leads to large mucous deposition in the lungs which restricts airflow.

Secondly, due to smoking, the immunity of lungs is primarily compromised and hence they are not able to get rid of infections. These infections give rise to inflammation of the lung tissues which further add to the severity of the condition.The deficiency of the protein AAT (Alpha-1 Antitrypsin) causes depletion of WBCs (white blood cells). In the absence of AAT, the lung is unable to fight against infections caused by the enzyme trypsin. The after-effects are akin to that of smoking as the lungs progressively degenerate rendering normal breathing impossible. This is a genetic predisposition.

Other factors which may cause emphysema may include exposure to polluted air, passive smoking, and hazardous working conditions which may expose an individual to noxious fumes and chemicals.The risk factors for emphysema are smoking, old age, working in mining/cotton/wood factories and frequent exposure to automotive exhaust.

 

What are the major symptoms of emphysema?

  • The onset of emphysema is indicated by shortness of breath which worsens over time.
  • Usual physical activities such as walking or jogging will cause more than usual difficulty in breathing.
  • As the condition progresses, even during times of rest the person will experience troubled breathing.
  • Gradually the person starts developing frequent coughs and wheezing accompanied by a large production of mucous.
  • The person will also suffer from chronic bronchitis and/or asthma.
  • Those who have AAT deficiency caused emphysema will observe these symptoms to develop at earlier ages as compared to chain smokers.
  • Emphysema patients gradually develop the habit of “pursed-lip breathing” (breathing through the mouth) and even “barrel chest” condition (decrease in the distance between chest and back).

 

How is emphysema detected?

Emphysema causesThe first diagnostic method in detecting emphysema will include the physician to check for the extent of breathing and wheezing and also for the barrel-chest symptom.

  • Imagining tests such as X-rays and CT-scans are useful in identifying the correct reason for lung obstruction. Since trouble in breathing could be caused by many other conditions, it is important to rule out the presence of a tumour or any other factor that might be restricting the air-flow. These also indicate the presence of over-inflated lungs and the extent of lung damage.
  • Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) are non-invasive in nature and are useful in measuring the amount of airflow occurring within the lungs. These are accurate in determining the severity of emphysema.
  • Blood tests which check for RBC and WBC count also help doctors gauge the onset of emphysema. The arterial blood gas test sheds light on the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide present in the patient’s blood.

 

Treatment methods for emphysema

The treatment protocol adopted for treating emphysema depends upon the magnitude of symptoms surfacing on the patient. The level of damage caused within the lung tissues is strictly irreversible. Hence, the treatment focuses on slowing the progress of the disease and enabling the patient to  manage the symptoms:

  • Medications – The kind of medications which help manage emphysema are bronchodilators, steroids, and antibiotics. Bronchodilators such as albuterol and ipratropium are responsible for clearing the constricted airways. Antibiotics are helpful for those who have chronic shortness of breath. This is due to increased inflammation and infections in the lungs such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Steroids are mostly taken in the inhaled form such as aerosol sprays which provide immediate relief from breathlessness.
  • Pulmonary Therapies – In addition to the medications, a series of effective therapies such as pulmonary rehabilitation therapy, nutrition therapy, or supplemental oxygen have shown positive results. These aim to teach proper breathing exercises and diet plans which can help control the progression of the disease.
  • Surgery – The last resort for treating emphysema is surgery. The most widely used surgical procedures include lung volume reduction surgery and lung transplant. In lung volume reduction, the emphysema affected portion of the lung is carefully removed to facilitate normal lung functioning. Lung transplant is usually employed in the very rare case where the lung damage is beyond control and no other treatment method is yielding results.

 

Preventive measures

  • The biggest preventive measure against emphysema is quitting smoking. Smoking exacerbates lung conditions. Similarly, one must completely avoid passive smoking as well.
  • Staying away from toxic fumes such as automotive exhaust and paints helps prevent the onset. Protective face masks must be used at all times in such situations.
  • Doing exercises regularly will help increase the lung capacity.

 

Emphysema Home Remedies

The symptoms of emphysema can be controlled by having the following things in your regular diet:

  • Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are rich sources of omega-3 fats. This kind of fat is beneficial for your body as it reduces bodily inflammation. Consume flaxseeds every day in order to manage the symptoms of emphysema, bronchitis, and other chronic lung infections.
  • Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits especially the ones which are rich in polyphenols and antioxidants protect lung tissues from further damage. Oranges, pears, grapefruits, and cantaloupes are proven to decrease the risk of mortality associated with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).
  • Fatty fish: Salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines – these fatty fish are abundant in omega-3 fats which, as mentioned above, have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus is an effective treatment for emphysema when used in diluted form. Eucalyptus when inhaled with steam can help in opening up air pathways and facilitate easy breathing. This shouldn’t be inhaled in concentrated form as it can irritate your lungs.
  • Ginseng: Panax ginseng or P. Ginseng is studied as an effect treatment for emphysema and other related lung conditions. It improves lung function and is helpful in pulmonary rehabilitation.

 


TL;DR?

emphysema infographic

Facts

  • Emphysema killed more than 3 million people globally in the year 2012 (7% of total deaths).
  • 3 in every 100,000 deaths are caused by emphysema.
  • It is the third leading cause of death in the USA. 90% of these deaths occur in low or mid-income conditions.

Facts

  • In females, smoking increases the chances of death through emphysema by 13%. In males, it is 12%.
  • The net cost of all COPD diseases (including emphysema and chronic bronchitis) was almost $50 millions in 2010.
  • It affects Caucasians more than any other ethnicity.

Facts

  • Stem-cell therapy has shown promising results in treating emphysema.
  • Genetics play a very trivial role (2%-3% of the reported cases). It is mostly caused by lifestyle and environmental factors.
  • Workers employed in iron, steel, and asbestos factories are highly likely to develop emphysema.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • If you suffer from emphysema, make sure that you carry your inhaler with you all the time.
  • Engage more in breathing exercises.
  • Emphysema can lead to further infections, Hence, maintain a good level of hygiene.
Don'ts
  • Discontinue your daily exercise routine. Exercise helps build up lung capacity.
  • Overdo strenuous physical activities.
  • Indulge in smoking. Also, refrain from exposing yourself to passive smoking and hazardous fumes.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal Sex : Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
Penis pump: Pump your way out of erectile dysfunction One of the options to treat erectile dysfunction is by the use of a penis pump. It is…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
Top natural diuretics: The instant benefits you can get from nature’s water pills Since diuretic drugs are known to cause side effects, it is better to choose a natural diuretic that…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
TBHQ: A carcinogen lingering in your child’s favorite snacks TBHQ - Why you should shun the practice of eating instant noodles or microwave popcorn to get rid…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
Benefits of exercise: Top reasons why you should be sweating it out more in the gym Are you leading a sedentary life and still not motivated enough to get up from your couch and…
Improve sex life
9 best tips from around the world for better sex life How can the pungent-smelling garlic pack in a punch to your libido? How could something as slimy as…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Melatonin: Fascinating facts on the hormone that brings you the Zzzs Did you know, melatonin - the chemical that puts you to sleep every night is also involved in…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that rise out of…
Latest findings on Kombucha; a teacup full of yeast and bacteria How can a tea consisting of a live culture of bacteria & fungi be healthy? With Kombucha, you…
The science behind daith piercing: Can it really cure migraine? Since the ear has several pressure points, it is believed that daith piercing activates the vagus nerve and…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
TRX: Why is this total resistance workout the best choice for your body? TRX or total resistance exercise is a form of exercise where suspension belts are used to produce that…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk of several deadliest…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats to burn fats…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
Lectin: The common link of proteins between peas and people Lectins are a type of protein that are found majorly in legumes. Most people are find it easy…
The real reason why you shouldn’t be eating ramen noodles Instant ramen noodles might be your go-to snack for your hunger pangs. But with each spoonful you are…
Hemp Seeds: The actual science behind this controversial crop Inspite of being credited as a superfood, hemp seeds are still shrouded with layers of controversies. Are these…
Guaranteed ways to lose weight fast and shed those extra pounds! Read more to find a guaranteed step-by-step method to lose weight permanently. Losing weight was never this easy!…
PiYo (Pilates + Yoga): Bringing you the best of both the worlds PiYo exercise routine was formulated for people who find it tedious and grueling exercise regimens such as extensive…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
erectile dysfunction treatment
Erectile Dysfunction: Effective tips to help you get back on charge Erectile dysfunction is a common male sexual dysfunction. Don't stress out. Just follow these amazing tips to get…
Coconut oil woman
Coconut Oil: How one oil dominates the kitchen and the medicine kit too Coconut oil has been a favorite in many Asian kitchens. But more than a cooking oil, coconut oil…
Lauric Acid: 8 health benefits you can derive from coconuts Appropriate use of saturated fats containing lauric acid can provide you numerous health benefits. This is the main…
Cranberry: Top reasons why you should grow this “superfruit” in your own backyard Cranberry is a favorite among foodies and health enthusiasts alike. Read more on how it can benefit your…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
Female Masturbation: Tips on how to turn up the heat during a solo mission As a female, do you find yourself constantly wondering as to what is the best way to please…
Burpees: World’s most challenging fitness routine now made simple for you The majority of the fitness regimens mainly concentrate on a particular muscle group whereas Burpees is s whole…
Aromatherapy: Can this sense-stimulating therapy help you? Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment method with several benefits, and not just for humans but pets as well.…
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Vitamin B12: The unknown repercussions of this nutrient deficiency Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamine; involved in the development of red blood cells in the bone marrow.…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
Trisodium Phosphate: How a paint thinner made its way into your breakfast Ever thought how toxic chemicals find their way into our foods? How can they harm our body? And…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
Fibromyalgia fatigue
HCG Diet: The dangers of using this diet to lose weight HCG is a natural hormone produced by both men and women that corresponds to fertility. But how is…
What is the average penis size and why should you care? Scientifically speaking, the average size of the penis depends on numerous factors such as genes, environmental circumstances, etc.
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
collagen benefits skin
Collagen: Get age-defying skin and faster hair growth with this miracle protein Collagen – Wrinkle-free skin, stronger nails, and thicker locks – now you have more reasons to eat these…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why not try the…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
Anticholinergics: The diverse range of diseases a single drug can easily treat What started as a novel treatment for Parkinson' disease has now become an all-encompassing drug. What all can…
Find the G spot: The top sex positions that guarantee an orgasm There has been a long debate as to whether the G-spot actually exists as a separate organ.  Can…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
Orgasms: How to perfect the art of achieving intense bursts of pleasure (every time!) Orgasms are dependent not just on the sexual activity but on your partner as well. What you must…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic Resistance: How common diseases become deadly Can a cold kill you? How important is to get a flu shot? Why do antibiotics fail against…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
castor oil hair
Castor oil : A vitamin-rich oil for shiny locks and healthy bowels Castor oil bestows unlimited benefits, whether you use it for your hair or skin. But did you know…
glutamine workout
Glutamine: Why is this the right choice for muscle-gain supplement? Glutamine can help you gain muscles and build higher immunity. Read more to find out how you can…
iron food shellfish
Iron-Rich Foods: Eat these foods to keep fatigue and anemia away! How to ensure a muscles as strong as iron? Eat iron rich foods ! Iron is one of…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
calorie counter
Calorie Counter: Count your calories before they flab Is calorie counting good? Are calories always bad for you? How do you if you are getting enough…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
L-arginine: Your search for the ultimate fitness booster ends here L-arginine is an amino acid necessary for the body to perform various functions.  It is essential in producing…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try CLA supplements, derived…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
The Vegan Diet: The benevolent way of eating that wins hearts (and tummies) The vegan diet involves fauna-friendly outlook towards food. Could the diet that hopes to balance everything based on…
The complete fitness guide on how to perform Tabata This fitness routine is called Tabata workouts, which is named after Dr. Izumi Tabata who developed this intensive…
Burn those years of stubborn fat-deposits with a few minutes of HIIT! HIIT or high-intensity interval training seems to be the right type of fitness training that is required where…