Pulmonary Emphysema : Symptoms and Causes

Summary :

Partie 1 :

It most often occurs in smokers or in people who regularly breathe in irritants.

◉ Causes and risk factors

The cause of emphysema is usually long-term exposure to irritants that damage your lungs and airways.

  • Smoking: the most common cause.
  • Long-term exposure to fumes, dust, wood smoke or industrial dust.
  • Genetic diseases: alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, genetic diseases of the connective tissue
  • Respiratory infections may also play a role.

As the inner walls of the alveoli deteriorate, the surface area of the lungs is reduced and it becomes more difficult for the lungs to get oxygen in and get carbon dioxide out of the body.

◉ Types of emphysema

Emphysema can be subdivided into 3 pathological types:

  • Centrilobular: Is the most common type and is usually associated with smoking (or more rarely pneumoconiosis).
  • Panlobular (panacinar): Usually resides in the lower half of the lungs and is typically found in α1-antitrypsin deficiency
  • Paraseptal: It is often associated with inflammatory processes, such as previous lung infections or • Or associated with spontaneous pneumothorax in a young adult.

◉ Symptoms of pulmonary emphysema

Due to the gradual onset of emphysema, one can have the disease for several years without noticing any signs or symptoms.

At first, a person may notice the symptoms during physical exertion. However, as the disease progresses Emphysema eventually causes shortness of breath even when you are at rest.

Depending on the stage of the disease and other factors, symptoms of emphysema may include:

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea), especially during physical activity.
  • Chest pain.
  • Long lasting cough (which produces mucus)
  • Wheezing (pursed lips).
  • Chills, fever, fatigue, headache or stomach pain.
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased exercise tolerance
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Constant feeling of not being able to get enough air
  • Bluish fingers and lips due to lack of oxygen in the blood

Note :

  • Symptoms of pulmonary emphysema may resemble other lung conditions
  • Some people with emphysema get frequent respiratory infections such as colds and flu
  • In severe cases, it can cause weight loss, weakness in lower muscles, and swelling in the ankles, feet, or legs.


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