Does Smoking Cause Emphysema?. Smoking causes a number of serious lung diseases such as lung cancer, bronchitis, and emphysema. Emphysema! What is emphysema and how is smoking related to it? Discover it here!
What is Emphysema?
Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is a condition where over-inflation of the alveoli or the air sacs (structures in the lungs) occurs. Over-inflation of the alveoli occurs when its walls breakdown. Hence, the respiratory function gets reduced, resulting in breathlessness.
Fresh air which is highly required for adequate ventilation is not filled in the air sacs because they can not completely shrink. So, the lungs loose elasticity; i.e. they become unable to fully expand and contract.
It becomes really difficult to breath out when a person suffers from emphysema; though he may not face difficulty in breathing in.
Following are the early emphysema symptoms:
- shortness of breath on exertion
- a chronic cough
- a bluish coloration of the skin caused by lack of oxygen
- difficulty in lying down
- anxiety and stress
- difficulty to concentrate
- excessive daytime sleepiness
- difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep
Causes of Emphysema
Smoking is the leading cause of emphysema. Toxic substances are discharged from tobacco smoke which enters the air sacs of the lungs. These toxic substances damage the walls of the air sacs.
Smoking also causes the chemical imbalance. When the chemicals from tobacco smoke are released to the air sacs of the lungs, a chemical imbalance occurs.
Air pollutants, irritating fumes, and dusts can also cause the chemical imbalance.
Emphysema which does not develop suddenly occurs over years of exposure to cigarette smoke, air pollution, and irritating fumes.
During emphysema treatment, the most crucial step is to stop smoking. Here are some of the emphysema treatments available:
Bronchodilators, steroids are used to treat emphysema by improving the breathing. Antibiotics are used for respiratory infections
Oxygen therapy can relieve emphysema symptoms by restoring blood oxygen levels
Pulmonary rehabilitation involves breathing techniques, exercising and education to overcome emphysema
Vaccinations for flu and pneumonia are recommended for those affected with emphysema
Lung reduction surgery:
In this surgery, damaged lung portions are removed for the efficient functioning of the normal portions of the lung
In severe cases of emphysema, lung transplantation is recommended
Smoking and Emphysema
Smoking is the most important risk factor for emphysema. When a person inhales tobacco smoke, it damages the air sacs in the lungs. Eventually, the lungs loose their functioning resulting in emphysema.
People who smoke 20 or more cigarettes per day suffer from emphysema.
Current smokers are 6 times more likely to develop emphysema than non-smokers.
Smoking causes 82% of emphysema among males and 76% among females.
Damage from emphysema is irreversible. So it can not be cured. Nevertheless giving up smoking is quite beneficial. It helps to slow down the rate of loss of lung capacity in emphysema.