Know the signs of emphysema

Smoking cigarettes can lead to emphysema. (Image courtesy of nenad2014 for Adobe Stock.)

Millions of Americans suffer from emphysema every year.

According to Mayo Clinic, emphysema is lung condition that causes shortness of breath. For people with this disease, their air sacs in their lungs are damaged. Most people with emphysema also have chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is inflammation of the tubes that carry air to your lungs (bronchial tubes), which leads to a persistent cough.

The main cause of emphysema is long-term exposure to smoke of any kind.  Emphysema is most likely to develop in cigarette smokers, but cigar and pipe smokers also are susceptible. The risk for all types of smokers increases with the number of years and amount of tobacco smoked.

According to the Mayo Clinic, tobacco-related emphysema symptoms start to show up around the ages of 40 and 60.

Doctors suggest if light physical activity like climbing stairs leaves you out of breath, you should see a medical professional to get your lungs checked out.

People who suffer from emphysema are more likely to have a collapsed lung, heart problems and large holes in their lungs.

There is medication for the disease to help coughing and reduce inflammation, which may help with the shortness of breath.

Depending on the severity of emphysema, someone may need a lung transplant.

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About Sara Brown

Sara Brown is the Sampan health editor.
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