Early Symptoms Of Emphysema

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Emphysema is a type of chronic lung disease.  In most people it is caused by a history of smoking.  Due to the lung damage caused from cigarettes, people with this disease have difficulties blowing air out of their airway.  However, catching symptoms early can help minimize the progression and discomfort emphysema causes.

Shortness of Breath:  The Early Symptom

Shortness of breath is one of the early symptoms of emphysema, and it is the most common. This disease is progressive and symptoms then evolve into coughing and wheezing.  Most patients who have been diagnosed with emphysema first noticed their symptoms when they quickly became out of breath from doing something that previously didn’t cause them to feel winded, such as walking up the stairs, carrying groceries into the house, or even mowing the lawn. Patients who are at risk for emphysema should keep these early symptoms in mind and report them to their doctor if they notice they are feeling more winded than normal when doing routine activities.

Causes of Shortness of Breath from Emphysema

For patients who have this common lung disease, structural changes in the lungs lead to patient being more winded than usual.  These small structural changes occur over time in response to being exposed to the toxins in cigarettes.  The toxins cause the linings in between the air sacs to be destroyed and producing air pockets in the damaged lungs.  The air in these pockets is challenging to exhale.  In turn, the lungs become bigger overtime and make normal breathing more difficult, requiring additional effort.  This means that the muscles that assist in breathing are made to work harder and will wear out sooner.  Patients struggle with feeling like they cannot catch their breath.  Early on in the progression of the disease people only notice their winded feeling with activities that require physical exertion.  However, as the disease continues to progress the shortness of breath is then felt while simply resting.

Other Symptoms

Additional symptoms of emphysema include:
• Wheezing
• Coughing
• Chest tightness
• Chest pain
• Poor sleeping
• Depression
• Sexual dysfunction
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss

You can avoid emphysema by not smoking or quitting as soon as possible.  If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms, contact your physician.

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