Emphysema By~Maya White

~Overview~

Emphysema gradually damages the air sacs (alveoli) in your lungs, making you progressively more short of breath. Emphysema can also lead to developing collapsed lung, heart problems, and large holes in the lungs. There is no cure for Emphysema

Background

The inner walls of the air sacs weaken and eventually rupture — creating one larger air space instead of many small ones. This reduces the surface area of the lungs and the amount of oxygen that reaches your bloodstream.

~Risks & Causes~

Exposure to certain factors put you at risk of developing this life threatening disease. The factors include: smoking, second hand smoke, age (commonly 40-60), occupational exposure to fumes or dust, and indoor and outdoor pollution exposure.

~Signs/Symptoms~

Those exposed to those probable causes gradually become more exposed to shortness of breath. Your ability to do basic things like walk up the stairs, walk, etc. will cause you to avoid activities due to shortness of breath. Other signs include either your toes or fingers turning blue/grey with exertion and you becoming less mentally alert, slower reactions than usual. Resting becomes a challenge, you breath harder and harder in motion and in stillness.

~Treatment~

Emphysema can't be cured, however treatments can be provided and can relieve symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. Victims of Emphysema can take medication or therapy to find ways to manage their sickness.

Medication

  • Bronchodilators: can help relieve coughing, shortness of breath and breathing problems by relaxing constricted airways.
  • Inhaled steroids: Corticosteroid drugs inhaled as aerosol sprays may help relieve shortness of breath.
  • Antibiotics: If you develop a bacterial infection, like acute bronchitis or pneumonia, antibiotics are appropriate.

Therapy

  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation: can teach breathing exercises and techniques that may help reduce your breathlessness and improve ability to exercise.
  • Nutrition Therapy: receive advice about proper nutrition
  • Supplemental oxygen: Recommended for those with severe emphysema (low blood oxygen levels). Using oxygen regularly may provide some relief. It's usually administered via narrow tubing that fits into nostrils.

~Prevention~

As previously mentioned Emphysema disease currently has no cure. Sometimes, depending on the severity of those with emphysema, a doctor may suggest surgery.

  • Lung Volume Reduction Surgery: Removes small wedges of damaged lung tissue. Helps the remaining lung tissue expand and work more efficiently and helps improve breathing.
  • Lung Transplant: A last resort for someone with severe emphysema and other options have failed.

~

The Emphysema disease comes from the choices you make in life. Protect and acknowledge risks and opportunities to do the right thing for yourself and others around you.

Credits:

Created with images by gerson_rodriguez - "el salvador san marcos sky"

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