Symptoms to recognize emphysema – VnExpress

Wheezing, shortness of breath, cough with phlegm, and weight loss are telltale signs of emphysema.

Emphysema is a progressive form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). When a person is diagnosed with emphysema, the person will suffer damage that occurs in the breathing tubes and air sacs. If not diagnosed and treated early, emphysema will make patients susceptible to respiratory infections, respiratory failure, pulmonary arterial hypertension and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart failure. Here are the telltale signs of emphysema.


Wheezing usually occurs when the body breathes through the mouth or nose. According to scientists, this is a common symptom of emphysema. This wheezing sound is caused by the airways being inflamed and constricted, leading to narrowing and making it difficult for air to flow through the lungs.

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath is also a characteristic symptom of emphysema. When it first appears, it usually occurs only with exertion. As the disease progresses for a long time, breathing difficulties can be life-threatening. People with emphysema often report feeling that their airways are gasping and gasping at rest; This phenomenon can be described as “air hunger”.

Emphysema causes shortness of breath due to long-term damage to the lungs. Image: Freepik

Persistent cough

A chronic cough is a persistent, persistent cough that does not go away despite treatment. In emphysema, the patient’s cough is often accompanied by sputum. In the long term, the disease can also progress to bronchitis or pneumonia.

Weight loss

When suffering from emphysema, the patient will often experience shortness of breath; even while resting or eating. If not treated early, the difficulty eating can lead to life-threatening malnutrition. In addition to emphysema, rapid weight loss and loss of appetite are also risk factors for lung cancer or tuberculosis.

Difficulty sleeping

Many of the symptoms of emphysema, such as chronic coughing and wheezing, can make it difficult to sleep. This makes it difficult for people with chronic respiratory diseases. According to medical experts, adequate rest is essential to provide the energy needed to breathe efficiently and get through activities of daily living. Often, nighttime oxygen therapy is needed for people with emphysema who are unable to sleep well.

Causes of emphysema

According to scientists, smoking is the most common cause of emphysema and accounts for 85-90% of cases. In addition to this factor, the human body will develop emphysema if regularly inhaling other pollutants such as: smog, air pollution, chemical fumes, wood smoke, or other gases and vapors. In some cases, smokers are also more likely to develop emphysema if a close relative has had COPD or is hereditary.

Direction of treatment of emphysema

Emphysema cannot be cured. However, treatment can help control symptoms and slow the progression of the condition. Here are the tips of medical experts:

Lifestyle changes: The first and most important step in treating emphysema is to quit smoking. In addition, the patient also needs to engage in regular physical activity to prevent muscle atrophy and slow the progression of the disease. The best exercises for sick people include a combination of endurance, flexibility, and strength training.

Continue to take the medicine as directed by your doctor: There are many medications available to help control the symptoms of emphysema and slow its progression, such as inhaled corticosteroid bronchodilators and antibiotics for infections. A study published in the journal Thorax found that patients who adhered to a regimen that used inhaled corticosteroids experienced fewer flare-ups over time.

Split meals: People with emphysema build a high-fiber diet and need to divide meals during the day. Eating four to six small meals is better than three large ones. Because the stomach is less full, it will make breathing easier. In addition, the patient should not lie down immediately after eating to avoid affecting the digestive activity of the stomach.

Besides the above ways, the patient may be prescribed oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation or surgery.

Huyen My (Follow Verywell Mind, Everyday Health, Verywell Health)


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