Most respiratory illnesses and diseases can be life threatening if not treated quickly and accordingly. Adequate airflow is needed to promote proper blood circulation, and the main problem with many lung afflictions is the excess stress this puts on the heart.
Many people fail to realize the connection between the two, and are ignorant to the fact that the body’s vital systems all work in conjunction with one another. To put the circumstances into perspective, consider what happens when you hold your breath; instantly, the cutoff of oxygen to the brain causes one to experiences symptoms of dizziness, lightheadedness, and confusion. Furthermore, your brain, heart and other vital organs are subsequently starved of the nutrients they need to survive.
Understanding Emphysema…..and Why It’s a Big Deal
This is why it does not take long at all to die from asphyxiation. Emphysema is a respiratory disease that affects millions of Americans each year, and although not immediately fatal, it can have a wide array of long-term health complications. Emphysema falls under the banner of COPD — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, one of a variety of conditions that negatively impact the respiratory system. According to the Mayo Clinic, certain people are at a higher risk of developing the condition, namely those who have pre-existing lung problems such as asthma, in addition to the elderly and people who smoke cigarettes on a regular basis.
It is understood that keeping preventable risk factors to a bare minimum is crucial for maintaining optimal health. Emphysema works by slowly damaging the alveoli — the name for the small air sacs in the lungs that process oxygen and essentially allow you to breathe. Nevertheless, one of the prevailing symptoms of people who have or are starting to develop emphysema is a shortness of breath. The inability to take deep breaths, at least without coughing or feeling tired, is a sure sign that the disease is advancing. Similarly, frequent episodes of bronchitis is another sign of COPD and emphysema and the health complications that accompany it.
The Risk Factors: Defined
We have already established that smokers comprise a large percentage of emphysema patients — and this includes those who smoke cigars and pipes in addition to cigarettes. The risk of developing the disease goes up with the frequency and volume of tobacco inhaled, but there are no hard and fast rules as to when the condition may develop.
Along the same lines, people who are exposed to secondhand smoke likewise increase the chances of Emphysema developing. In some cases, passive or environmental smoke may in fact be more harmful to a person’s lungs.
A person’s age is yet another important factor that physicians take into account. Generally speaking, most people tend to be diagnosed with the illness between the ages of 40 and 60, though keep in mind that this is contingent on a number of health factors. Individuals who work in certain environments or industries are at a higher risk, namely those who frequently breathe indoor and outdoor pollutants (e.g. motor vehicle exhaust, heating fuel fumes, etc.).
Contact your doctor immediately if you are having trouble breathing or are experiencing a sudden tightness in the chest region. Understanding the risk factors of emphysema and monitoring your condition with the aid of medical professionals can help you stay healthier longer and fight the effects of the disease.
If you have a story to share about yourself or a loved one with emphysema we would love to hear about it in the comment section below.