A long term lung disease called Emphysema
|By: Carson Martin | Jul 20 2013 | 462 words | 1127 hits|
A chronic or long term lung disease is called as emphysema. This disease is typically called hyperinflation. Just like a balloon the lungs are over-inflated so that they lose their elasticity and elastic recoil. There are balloon like blisters or bullae in the lung tissues. The body is deprived of fresh air flowing into the lungs because carbon dioxide is trapped in the bullae.
The lungs begin by compensating by taking deeper breaths. This further makes it lose its elasticity and expands the lung tissues. More carbon dioxide accumulates in the lungs with loss of elasticity leaving less space for fresh air and this leads to shortness of breath. With time the muscles and ribs begin to expand to contain the expanded lungs. The diaphragm normally dome shaped that lies beneath the lungs flattens and lose their functional capacity.
One of the most important causes of emphysema is cigarette smoking while other causes include air pollution, work hazards, and lung infections. Cigarette smoke changes the structure and function of the lungs by causing irritation and inflammation of the narrow airways. This leads to release of enzymes in the lungs that destroy lung tissues and an increased size in the air sacs eventually leading to emphysema.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is a rare genetic condition where there are decreased levels of the protective protein. It protects the lungs from the destructive effects of enzymes. Patients who have scarcity of this enzyme thus have lungs that are damaged by enzymes called elastases at an early age.
It is typically characterized by wheezing and shortness of breath. It is considered to be a part of chronic obstructive lung disease. The demolition of lung tissue seen with it leads to a reduction in the functional capacity of the lungs. Early diagnosis and management can help prevent gross damage to the lungs. For diagnosing it several breathing tests as well as imaging studies like X rays are used.
• Bronchodilators - these are drugs that open up the narrowed airways to allow for more oxygen intake into the lungs. There are numerous types of bronchodilators. Beta 2 agonists include Salmeterol, Salbutamol, etc. Antimuscarinic agents that are one of the important agents used include Tiotropium and Ipratropium. Theophyliline is another group of bronchodilators that is administered orally as pills rather than by inhalation as with other bronchodilators.
• Steroids - These may be given by inhalation, pills (during flare ups) and even by injection during severe cases. The inflammation within the lungs is reduced.
• In case of lung infections during flare ups antibiotics are recommended.
• Oxygen therapy.
Lung transplantation and lung volume reduction surgery are surgical options that are available. These should be used only when the uses of all medical treatments as well as pulmonary rehabilitation have been tried and symptoms continue to persist.
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