Our respiratory system is a very important part of our body. Without this, we cannot even survive longer than a few seconds. This system is composed of several parts. Each of these parts carries a specific task or role that maintains the overall performance and functioning of the respiratory system. Unfortunately, this too can also be afflicted with many diseases and health problems. One of these conditions is otherwise known as emphysema. What is emphysema and what are the different emphysema facts?
Emphysema is defined as a chronic and long term lung disease that usually affects our breathing as a result to the damaged air sacs. This type of condition is manifested by tissue damage or deterioration, which causes air to be trapped inside the lungs. Once this happens, the oxygen level in the blood will gradually decrease, affecting the different tissues in the body. Emphysema is classified as one of the types of COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Once emphysema is left untreated, this can cause serious complication and can even lead to death. In fact, this disease is recognized as the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
How does emphysema occur? Emphysema occurs as it causes damage to the cilia (tiny hair like structures covering the bronchial tubes), which is majorly caused by cigarette smoking. Tobacco use is in fact considered the leading cause of this disease. Frequent use of cigarettes can prevent cilia from removing or cleaning out the germs ad other irritant found in the airways. Once this happens, these irritants can travel all the way into the lungs and can create further damage or complication. Aside from cilia, the lung’s immune cells are also affected by smoking.
Although this disease can happen to anyone especially the chain smokers, emphysema is more likely to develop among older people since their lungs functions lesser as they age. Men are also more likely to experience this disease than women which is associated to the difference in hormones. Second hand smoking and the exposure to harmful fumes and chemicals can also cause emphysema to occur. Some of the most common symptoms of this disease include shortness of breath, difficulty of breathing and production of abundant mucus. Others may also show barrel chests, which is linked to the presence of air trapped inside the air sacs. Persistent coughing and the presence of wheezing is also a sign of emphysema that needs immediate attention.
Some of the other facts about emphysema include the following:
• Statistics show that there are already 2 million Americans that suffer from emphysema.
• Emphysema is common in older men
• Women are said to be protected from this disease due to hormonal difference. This, however, is not yet proven.
• This disease does not occur in an instant. Instead, emphysema occurs as a result from chronic or long exposure from smoking
• Smoking is recognized as the number one cause of respiratory diseases. 82% of respiratory problems are associated to cigarette smoking
• Emphysema can also happen from dust inhalation as well as smoke from fumes and as well as other pollutants.