Source:  Emphysema    Tag:  alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency emedicine


Is a disease of the lungs that continues to get worse as time moves forward. Emphysema is known as a obstructive lung disease under the category of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. Emphysema completely destroys lung tissue around the bronchioles along with the alveolar walls which cause these airways to be unable to keep their shape when people breath out or rather exhale.


Emphysema is mostly cause by the continual smoking of cigarettes. Approximately anywhere from 80% to 90% of cases of emphysema is caused by smoking. Industrial pollutants, aerosol sprays, non-tobacco smoke, internal-combustion engine exhaust, and physiological atrophy (which mostly occurs in the elderly called senile emphysema).

On a physical standpoint emphysema can be caused by scarring after some sort of accident that affected the lungs which would cause scar emphysema. Suffocation, whooping cough, labor (child-bearing), and acute bronchopneumonia can also cause emphysema by the rupturing of alveoli. Tuberculosis and Asthma also can cause emphysema by lung overstretching which ultimately damage the elastic fibers of the alveoli walls. Also the genetic disorder -- alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency causes Emphysema.


The most common symptom of Emphysema is shortness of breath and wheezing. Other symptoms include chronic bronchitis, asthma, and bronchiectasis. Chronic cough, frequent respiratory infections, reduced appetite, weight loss and fatigue are also symptoms of Emphysema. Other symptoms of emphysema may be skipped breaths, insomnia or frequent nocturnal waking, memory loss, morning headaches, nasal flaring, blurred vision, increased breathing difficulty while lying down, impaired concentration, atypical irritability or loss of temper, excessive daytime sleepiness, and swelling of feet, ankles, or legs.


There is no possible way to stop Emphysema or reverse the effects of it on the respiratory system. For those who smoke physicians advice the immediate quitting of smoking. There also are techniques for the controlling of coughing to get rid of excess mucus in the lungs that could possibly cause infection. Breathing techniques/exercises, which can help with the strengthening of the muscles that are essential to breathing, along with mild exercise is said to have helped with Emphysema. Some medicines and other therapies used are:

· Bronchodilators: albuterol, Proventil, Ventolin, salmeterol, or ipratropium, Theophylline

*Bronchodilators relax bronchial muscles which allow for the airways to be widened and thus breathing less laborious

· Steroids: Corticosteroids

*Steroids reduce inflammation in lungs

· Antibiotics

*Antibiotics help with shortness of breath

· Oxygen Therapy

*Pure oxygen through tubes through the nose

*Interesting Facts:

*The most interesting thing about Emphysema is it is more likely to occur in males than females the exact cause of this is not discovered yet.

*Men over the age of 65 are rated as having the most cases of Emphysema.

*The fastest rising cause of death in North America is Emphysema.

*Emphysema is given the 15th place on the list of most chronic diseases that limit activities of an individual.

*Symptoms of Emphysema only start showing after approximately 30% to 50% of lung tissue is destroyed.

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