Emphysema Essay

This essay has a total of 1636 words and 7 pages.


Emphysema is a condition of the lungs that involves the over-inflation of the air sacs,
otherwise known as the alveoli. Normal functioning of the alveoli helps breathing in
normal respiration. Unlike other lung diseases this one can be inherited. This is a
disease that can affect people of all ages and genders. In 1994, the number of males with
emphysema outnumbered the females by fifty four percent. However, in the two years that
followed the difference between males and females decreased by ten percent.

Emphysema is a lung disease that is classified as a COPD. (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Natural History (Symptoms):
A person may notice various signs that will lead them to believe they may have emphysema.
The most common symptom that people begin to feel is shortness of breath. Usually, this
begins while exercising or taking part in some sort of physical activity. Eventually,
they will even begin to feel like they are not getting enough oxygen even when they are
just sitting and relaxing. Some other symptoms that could be related are chronic coughing
which could worsen in the morning upon waking up, wheezing, and chronic mucus production,
which may result in a constant need to clear the throat. Some may notice that they feel
fatigued very easily as well. There can also be many health complications that may occur
which include recurrent respiratory tract infections and respiratory failure. This is
caused by the lung’s loss of ability to function properly. There are many physical
changes that may occur as well, leading some to believe they may have emphysema. The most
common physical change may be in their chest, which takes on a barrel-like appearance.
This will happen so that the lungs can make up for the actual dysfunction by expanding.
Others may notice a bluish discoloration of the lips and nail beds caused by lack of
oxygen in the blood. Swelling and increased fluid in the lungs may also be a sign to look
for. A steady tracking of the symptoms and health history of the person should be taken
into consideration as well.

Prevalence and/or Incidence:
Emphysema is a fairly common disease, with two out of one thousand people reporting cases.
Currently, there are 1.8 million Americans in the United States that have emphysema.
Emphysema is ranked 15th among chronic conditions or diseases which limit people’s daily
activity. A study by the American Lung Association shows that 44 percent of people with
emphysema have reported that their daily activities have been greatly limited due to the

Ethnical Distribution:
Emphysema can be contracted by people of all walks of life and does not favor any
particular ethnic groups. The contraction of emphysema mainly depends on life style.

Geographical Distribution:
Emphysema is a disease that in not only caused by the way you live, but can be contracted
through the area in which a person lives. For example, people who live in urban areas are
at higher risk. This is due to the fact that these areas are more highly populated with
factories and cluttered with automobiles. These factories produce a great deal of smoke
which can be very harmful to the lungs of the people who inhale it. The automobile
exhaust has the same affect on the lungs if inhaled for long periods of time.

Time of Study:
In 1994 the study on males and females and their percentage difference was performed and
then in 1996 the study was updated.

Risk Factors or Causes:
Scientific research shows that the normal lung system has a strong balance between two
classes of chemicals, which strongly oppose each other. Also included in the lungs are
many elastic fibers, which are necessary for the lung to expand and contract. The
chemical balance in a normal lung can be altered which will result in destruction of these
elastic fibers. Exhaling becomes difficult because the elastic fibers are damaged which
in turn harms the lung. According to the American Lung Association, this is what happens
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