What are the Symptoms of Emphysema?

What are the Symptoms of Emphysema?

Emphysema is a chronic lung condition that gradually damages the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of emphysema often develop gradually and may include:

  1. Shortness of Breath (Dyspnea): A persistent feeling of breathlessness, especially during physical activity or exertion, that worsens over time.
  2. Chronic Cough: A persistent cough, often with clear or white sputum production, which may worsen over time.
  3. Wheezing: A whistling or squeaky sound while breathing, especially during exhalation.
  4. Chest Tightness: A sensation of pressure or tightness in the chest.
  5. Difficulty Breathing: Feeling like you can’t catch your breath or like you’re suffocating.
  6. Frequent Respiratory Infections: Increased susceptibility to respiratory infections like bronchitis or pneumonia.
  7. Reduced Exercise Tolerance: Difficulty maintaining physical activity due to shortness of breath.
  8. Barrel Chest: Over time, the chest may take on a barrel-like shape due to increased air trapped in the lungs.
  9. Fatigue: Feeling tired or lacking energy, often due to the extra effort required to breathe.
  10. Weight Loss: Unintended weight loss due to the increased energy expended in breathing and difficulty eating.
  11. Finger Clubbing: Enlarged fingertips with nails that curve around the fingertips due to chronic low oxygen levels.

It’s important to note that symptoms of emphysema can vary in severity and may worsen over time. Emphysema is often associated with chronic bronchitis, together forming chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The primary cause of emphysema is long-term exposure to irritants, most commonly cigarette smoke, but it can also be caused by exposure to other lung irritants like air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust.

If you suspect you may have emphysema or are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis and management. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, and improve the quality of life through medication, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, and lifestyle changes.

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