Emphysema Symptoms

emphysema symptoms

Emphysema is a smoking-related chronic lung disease. In this article, we’re going to talk more about emphysema and its symptoms. Because it is a chronic disease that progresses over time, the emphysema symptoms are usually only obvious after some time.

It all starts with shortness of breathing. So far, this is the most common symptom. Most people who have emphysema first know something’s wrong with them when they’re out of breath after doing routine activities like mowing the lawn or climbing the stairs.

The shortness of breath comes from changes in your lungs’ structure due to damage. You see, when you have emphysema, the linings found between the air sacs are damaged, thus creating pockets of air in the lungs. Since the air is trapped in these air pockets, breathing becomes difficult. The lungs then slowly enlarge, thus making breathing even more difficult. The muscles responsible for your breathing need to work harder, and you become tired sooner, even when you’re only doing simple activities. In the advanced stages of emphysema, you will feel tired even when you’re already at rest.

Aside from shortness of breath, which is really very common, emphysema has other symptoms, including:

Wheezing – Wheezing is also a symptom of asthma. If you’re experiencing this symptom, you can find relief in inhaling medicines called bronchodilators.

Coughing – Coughing is also another common symptom of emphysema. Although it can be misconstrued as smoker’s cough at first, if you’ve quit for some time but are still experiencing coughing symptoms, it could be because you have emphysema.

Tightness or pain in the chest – This symptom is often experienced during times when you are breathless or have just exercised. Keep in mind, however, just because you have tight or some swelling pain in your chest, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have emphysema, you might have heart disease, which is why it’s necessary to have yourself diagnosed.

Aside from the symptoms we mentioned above, emphysema sufferers could also experience depression, loss of appetite, weight loss, poor quality of sleep, and decreased sexual function, but these symptoms usually occurring in the most advanced stages of emphysema.

As we said earlier, the symptoms of emphysema are progressive, meaning they don’t occur right away and get worse over time. Also, emphysema could start with a persistent cough and move and progress to the other symptoms.

The functioning of the lung deteriorates gradually with age even among non-smokers. Emphysema accelerates this loss of function. If you’ve been diagnosed with emphysema, you can stem the progression of your disease and its symptoms by quitting smoking. Most people who have emphysema are able to manage their disease by going cold turkey on their habit.

The symptoms of emphysema usually start to appear between 45 to 60 years old. Some people develop symptoms faster than others and start to experience them earlier. Most doctors still don’t know why this happens but it is widely believed that it’s because of genetic factors.

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