Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is not actually just one disease; it is a collection of lung diseases. It includes chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive airways disease and emphysema. Emphysema involves the enlargement of the air sacs in the lungs. It is common to people who smoke. The lungs are made up of different tube-like airways; first come the trachea that conducts inhaled air through the bronchi, which are tubular branches. The bronchi split up into smaller branches called bronchioles before branching out into microscopic air sacs called alveoli. The exchange in oxygen and carbon dioxide happens in the alveoli. The damage cause by emphysema is permanent and can come in a number of forms – the sacs can be destroyed, narrowed, collapsed, stretched or over inflated. Here is a list of 11 symptoms to look out for to check the presence of Emphysema.
1. Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath, medically referred as dyspnea, can be caused by respiratory or circulatory conditions. It is the most common symptom experienced by people suffering from emphysema. Dyspnea in emphysema is caused by the many structural changes happening in the lungs. The linings between the air sacs are destroyed creating air pockets in the lungs. The air trapped in the air pockets are difficult to breathe out, slowly enlarging the lungs, making breathing difficult. The muscles responsible for breathing work harder and tire out sooner. The result is a feeling of breathlessness and a difficulty in breathing.