The ‘underlying cause of death’: warning signs of emphysema that can cause holes in the lungs
Considered the “third leading cause of death” worldwide, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a general term for a group of lung diseases that cause breathing difficulties, including emphysema. Emphysema causes damage to the air sacs and can lead to a range of problems, including holes in the lungs, if left untreated. This gloomy prognosis prioritizes symptom awareness.
Once you develop emphysema, the air sacs in your lungs, also known as alveoli, become damaged.
The concern is that the inner walls of these air sacs can weaken and rupture over time, creating large air spaces instead of many small ones.
The Mayo Clinic explains: “This reduces the surface area of the lungs, and in turn, the amount of oxygen entering the bloodstream.
“When you exhale, the damaged alveoli don’t work properly and the old air is trapped, leaving no room for fresh, oxygen-rich air to enter.”
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While breathing problems gradually get worse over time, treatment can help keep them under control, according to the NHS.
To get the right help, you need to first determine the state.
The Health Service recommends looking out for the following warning signs:
- Increased shortness of breath (especially when you are active)
- Persistent retrosternal cough with phlegm (some people may think this is just “smoker’s cough”)
- Frequent chest infections
- Constant wheezing.
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The Mayo Clinic advises “seeing a doctor” if you have had unexplained shortness of breath for several months.
You should be especially careful if this type of shortness of breath worsens or interferes with your daily activities.
“Don’t ignore it by telling yourself it’s because you’re getting old or out of shape,” the health organization adds.
According to the NHS, it’s critical to start treatment “as soon as possible” before your lungs suffer serious damage.
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While lung damage caused by emphysema is usually irreversible, proper treatment can help slow the progression of the disease.
From quitting smoking to surgery, there are various treatments for emphysema.
The Health Service explains that quitting cigarettes is the “most important thing” you can do if you smoke.
In addition, inhalers, medications, and rehabilitation can make your breathing easier.
How to prevent emphysema
The good news is that COPD is “largely” preventable, the NHS explains.
It states: “You can greatly reduce your chances of developing it if you avoid smoking.
“If you’re already a smoker, quitting smoking can help prevent further lung damage before it starts to cause troublesome symptoms.”
You should also stay away from secondhand smoke, which is caused by burning tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.
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