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Emphysema is presently known to be long-term disease of lungs and it is very progressive thus being able to cause instant shortness in breath. Individuals suffering from emphysema will end up having their lung tissues, which play a very important role in the lungs being, destroyed thus distorting the functionality of the organ. The disease belongs to a group of infections known as COP, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases, and here pulmonary have been adopted to stand for lungs. Emphysema as a serious disease has been referred as an obstructive disease of the lungs because it will cause intensive destruction on the tissues surrounding the lungs and the thinner air paths known as the bronchioles. This kind of damage makes the bronchioles unable to sustain their proper shape during inhalation and exhalation processes (David, 2009). From pulmonary studies, it has been noted that emphysema has the capability of changing the lung’s anatomy in a number of ways. The first change is when the air sacs have been damaged as well as the bronchioles. Sometimes the infection might end up damaging the alveolus where gaseous exchanges are known to take place. In terms of damage, the infection reduces the number of these air pipes and alveoli thus making the lungs unable to carry out their functions the way they should.
Possible Causes of Emphysema
There are a number of possible causes of this infection in human beings. To begin with, smoking is the primary cause for it and the reason the disease is very common with smokers. Smoking has been noted to contribute to this kind of disease by either resulting in overall destruction of the tissues of the lung, which results in obstruction thus causing irritation and inflammation. The smoke might block the passages thus contributing to obstruction and disease progression. Eventually there shall be persistent inflammation, which results in protein loss thus keeping the lung non-elastic (Friman, 2005). As well, polluted air has been singled out as another possible cause for the disease. Pollutants still have a strong capability of causing intensive inflammation within the air pipes and in the alveoli thus resulting in an eventual destruction of the tissues around the lungs, which result in the progression of the disease. There has also been studies which have indicated that the disease can easily be inherited, thus seeing a number of individuals developing it through genetic acquisition. At times there may occur cases of airway reactivity due to conditions like asthma, which can lead to the emphysema disease. Another cause, though not really a cause, is due to gender orientation. This is to say that men would tend to be more likable to get the condition compared with their counterpart women (Friman, 2005). Although there has never been any medical evidence behind this, it will be noted that hormonal variations can be a chief suspect. Finally, people who are aging come closer to developing the disease thus making age another possible cause for the disease.
Signs and Symptoms
The commonly noticeable symptom upon development of this kind of infection is shortness in breathing. This is usually the very first symptom that has to be looked out. As the disease progresses, coughing becomes quite common which might be accompanied with mucus, and a wheezing sound. This might be the reasons an individual might realize he or she will be engaged in a strenuous exercise for a long duration. It should be something worth noting that the disease progresses slowly by slowly so that the individual might not be able to note whether he is developing the disease. At later stages, another important sign is known as purse-lipped inhalation. This is so because one has to struggle with breathing. Another important sign that develops later is the ‘barrel’ kind of a chest. This occurs when there is a shortened distance between the back and the individual’s chest (Green, 2007). Upon realization of any of the above symptoms, and especially with the smoking population, it should be something advisable that medical intervention is sought immediately. Another important thing to be noted is that a new cough that appears to worsen day after day should be a reason for medical check-up. As well, an increase in sputum production should be taken seriously since it might be a sign for the disease.
Testing and Examination
One an individual has gone to a doctor after suspecting that he or she may be suffering from the disease, it becomes the duty of the doctor or physician to conduct a number of examinations and tests, which are necessary in establishing the disease. Because very many symptoms for lung and pulmonary diseases would tend to be similar, the doctor is usually advised to go farther than just embarking on the complaints presented by the patient. This means that a number of tests would be necessary in establishing the disease (Green, 2007). The first approach would be an X-ray, which can be effective towards understanding the disease. It is a very quick method and gives room towards understanding the causal agent. Mechanical experiments can as well be conducted to establish the capacity and capability of the lungs. For inherited cases, an alpha-1-antitrypsin and possible deficiency tests might as well be conducted, and this means that a blood test has to be conducted. The count of white blood cells can be performed once there is an acute infection. All these procedures might also be combined in order to be sure that proper disease testing has been done (Carey, 2008). This will put the physician or doctor in the right position towards deriving possible treatments for a specific patient.
Emphysema and Treatment
A physician would apply several approaches towards treating the emphysema disease. However, it should be noted that there is a sequential approach, which has to be applied in order to heal such a patient, which has to be done depending on severity of the disease with specific patients. The first approach, which has been used, is in ensuring that any individual who has been smoking quits smoking instantly (Carey, 2008). This has been one of the commonly applied recommendations by a greater percentage of medical practitioners. This is then preceded by giving medications for bronchodilating. These are medications, which have the capability of encouraging better breathing and exchange of gases in the alveoli. A commonly used drug here is Ventolin, which has greater capabilities in promoting inhalation-exhalation processes. Steroid-derived medications have also been applied in fighting the disease. These have the capability of decreasing the degree of inflammation within the lungs. However, special prescriptions would be appropriate for majority of individuals who do not respond to steroids. There can also be the use of antibiotics, which have the capability in reducing shortness in breathing (Stockley, 1999). This is so because damaged tissues end up harboring microbial infections, which can be eliminated by using the antibiotics. When one has been taken for emergency after cases of shortened breaths, he or she can be subjected to oxygen to prevent suffocation. Some people might be given home-based tanks for oxygen to use when doing their daily chores.
When the disease has progressed beyond certain levels, doctors are supposed to carry out surgical operations on the patient (Fessler et al, 2004). The first approach with the surgery is in reducing the size of the blocked lungs, which will be significant in aiding breathing. This kind of surgery is mainly done to reduce and remove the dead cells and tissues which tend to increase the volume of the lungs thus hindering breathing. When the disease is in a highly advanced stage, it would be necessary that transplantation be done. However, the issue of rejection becomes possible and the reason it would be better if all people ensure that they live healthy and positively to reduce chances of developing the disease (Fessler et al, 2004). When one has known that he or she has the disease, it is advisable that he or she is engaged in follow-up checks and health care in order to manage the disease effectively. This means that all the requirements set by the doctor should be met without any distortion or ignorance if the patient is to be helped. The cooperation that an individual shows to the doctor would play a very significant role towards healing and leading a better life for the patient (Stockley, 1999). Natural therapies have also been noted to be helpful in managing the disease, which enhances functioning of the lung.
It is well known that it is better to prevent the occurrence of something than letting it happen to deal with it. This is the main reason why it is very important for a disease like emphysema to be prevented than waiting to start dealing with it. Towards prevention of the condition, the first approach that has been proposed by doctors and other experts is for one to quit smoking for once and for all or to avoid smoking for those who have not begun the habit. This is the case because this disease has been commonly presented with smokers, and the reason why smoking is the one and only risk factor which can be effectively controlled by man towards preventing chances of the disease. The individuals who smoke daily would be in higher chances of developing the disease. Another important issue is that flare-kind of emphysema can be competently prevented by the use of medications that have been given and prescribed by an expert doctor (Fessler et al, 2004). Again, for those individuals who have been diagnosed with the disease, it is necessary to be vaccinated to prevent any other kind of pulmonary infections which tend to be opportunistic. Some of these infections include influenza and pneumonia, which can be successfully prevented by getting vaccines for intervals of five years.
Important Outlooks on the Disease
One of the important things to understand about emphysema is that it is a serious killer disease and should be prevented as much as possible by smokers. It comes with chronic effects affect the quality of life by any given individual. It should also be noted that the disease would have no immediate cure although there are some approaches of maintaining it and eventually overcoming it (Carey, 2008). These methods will as well be useful in slowing the rate at which the disease will progress once an individual has been affected. However, once one has been diagnosed with the disease, it should not be seen as a death sentence since it can be easily managed and easy overcome within a given time interval. Quitting smoking for smokers and never smoking for non-smokers becomes the first step towards fighting the emphysema disease. As well, it would be something necessary that any given individual who has been noted to have the disease makes an effort towards getting medical assistance before the disease progresses to its worst stages. It should be necessary that people watch their health standards to prevent chances of developing the disease. Currently, the World Health Organization has announced the disease as the fourth killer condition after Malaria, Aids and Tuberculosis. As well, the disease is the leading killer disease with the pulmonary diseases and the reason it has to be prevented.
From the above discussion, it will be noted that the disease is a serious respiratory disease, which has to be fought zealously. This is to say that all smokers should be made aware of this kind of diseases on how they stand a higher chance of developing it. Being a fourth killer disease in the world today, it becomes an alarm, which should be given a global attention and be fought keenly (Carey, 2008). This would integrate all possible measures towards seeing that all individuals have been sensitized about the disease and stay safe from it. With the inherited cases, it is very easy to manage the disease and therefore any kind of suspicious symptom should be noted instantly and then medical intervention be taken to establish the possible cause of the given symptom.
Carey, F. (2008). Emphysema: the battle to breathe (3rd edn). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
David, V. (2009). Molecular Biology: Inherited Disorders: New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Fessler, H., Joseph, J. & David, S. (2004). Lung volume reduction for emphysema. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Friman, O. (2005). ‘Recognizing emphysema – a natural network approach.’ Journal of pulmonary infections. 12(2), 34-56.
Green, R. (2007). Natural Therapies for Emphysema and COPD: Relief and Healing for Chronic Diseases. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Stockley, R. (1999). Molecular Biology of the Lung: Emphysema and infection. Oxford: Oxford University Press.