What is Emphysema?
Emphysema is a chronic, progressive lung condition that causes intense shortness of breath. This happens due to the air sacs in the lungs, called alveoli, over inflating. The tissues that exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs is damaged or destroyed, thus the exchange is not being made.
Emphysema is included in the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) group because the airflow during exhalation is slowed or stopped. This happens because the over-inflated alveoli are not exchanging oxygen/carbon dioxide when a person breathes.
The alveoli become over-inflated because the small airways, called bronchioles, are collapsed due to lung tissue damage and destruction. Because these bronchioles are collapsed, air becomes trapped in the air sacs.
Causes and Risks
COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Over 11 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, but many more have the disease without realizing. About 28% (just over 3 million) of those people are diagnosed with emphysema.
The main cause of this disease is chronic exposure to things such as tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke, air pollution, and dust. In rare cases, emphysema can be caused by Alpha-1-Antitrypsin Deficiency. This is a genetic deficiency of a protein that shields the elastic structures in the lungs.
Those that are smokers (or are around smokers and are exposed to secondhand smoke), those that are advanced in age, and those that are exposed to occupational dust and fumes are at a higher risk for developing emphysema.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for emphysema right now. There are, however, ways to treat the symptoms of the disease.
The first step is to protect yourself from the irritants. So, if you’re a smoker, stop smoking. If you’re a miner, look for other ways of income.
The second step is medical intervention. Popular treatment approaches include inhaled steroids, antibiotics, and bronchodilators. It is also often suggested that oxygen concentrators be used as they can be beneficial and are a great supplement to emphysema treatments.
Oxygen Concentrators and Emphysema
Those with emphysema and other COPD diseases typically find oxygen concentrators to be very helpful and beneficial. Because modern day oxygen concentrators are portable and lightweight, they can go with you everywhere.
Most airlines allow them and are easily carried throughout whatever your day brings. Oxygen concentrators have evolved tremendously since they first came on the market. Like many things, they’ve advanced in size and in technology.
The oxygen concentrators today are capable of recognizing breathing patterns and irregularities and will adjust oxygen flow accordingly. For example, resting verses walking require different amounts of oxygen. Oxygen concentrators recognize and adjust accordingly.
Overall, oxygen concentrators allow the patient a great experience. Increasing their mental and physical health with minimal intervention. The annoyances like heavy, bulky tanks and a limited supply of oxygen are issues no more.
With a one time purchase, today’s tanks are lightweight and supply an unlimited amount of oxygen.