Emphysema, a form of COPD, is a progressive lung disease characterised by persistent respiratory symptoms, including lung air space expansion without fibrosis, lung parenchymal damage, loss of lung elasticity and airflow limitation due to airway or alveolar abnormalities.

Lung disease emphysema affects air spaces distal to the terminal bronchiole and is typically caused by significant exposure to noxious particles or gases.

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Effects of Emphysema on the Respiratory System

Air sacs in the lungs are impacted by emphysema. These sacs are often stretchable or elastic. Every air sac, resembling a little balloon, expands with each breath and collapses when the air flows out of the body. Numerous pulmonary air sac walls are compromised in this condition, resulting in a floppy and deformed state of the air sacs. In addition to destroying the air sac walls, the damage may result in fewer, bigger air sacs than a vast number of microscopic ones. As a result, breathing in(inhaling) oxygen and expelling(exhaling) carbon dioxide becomes more difficult for your lungs.

Cause of Emphysema Disease

It is majorly caused by prolonged and substantial exposure to harmful gases. In developing nations like India, biomass fuels and other atmospheric pollutants like sulphur dioxide and particulate matter have been recognised as significant contributors and have a detrimental effect on women and children.

Cigarette smoking is one of the most prevalent cause of emphysema disease. It has been found that 80% to 90% of COPD patients smoke cigarettes and that 10% to 15% of smokers get the disease. However, the extent of smoking, the total span of exposure, the existing lung condition, etc., affect the disease's symptoms. Lung infections, allergies, and passive smoking are other etiological parameters.

Furthermore, an infant with low birth weight is more likely to acquire the condition. The decline in mortality from other causes, such as infectious and cardiovascular illnesses, is another important reason. Genetic variables also significantly influence the likelihood of airflow restriction in patients. Regardless of smoking status, coal mining worker pneumoconiosis is associated with considerably greater emphysema severity.

Emphysema Disease Symptoms

The following are a few emphysema disease symptoms:-

  • Breathing Issues:- It is caused due to the decreased capacity of the injured lungs to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen effectively.
  • Chronic Cough:- Another typical symptom is persistent coughing, which is frequently accompanied by thick, mucus-like sputum production.
  • Chest Tightness:- The patients may also have a barrel-shaped chest due to increased air retention and lung hyperinflation.
  • Fatigue:- The patients may also feel tired and have a lower tolerance for exertion
  • Bluish tint on lips:- The patients may also have blue lips and fingernails, which are signs of low blood oxygen levels.
  • Respiratory Infections:- Higher vulnerability to respiratory diseases like bronchitis or pneumonia.
  • Wheezing:- Narrowed airways cause noticeable whistling or wheezing sounds when breathing.

Types of Emphysema

Centriacinar Emphysema

Alveoli in the walls of the respiratory bronchioles & alveolar ducts are destroyed by centriacinar emphysema, which also affects the airways and alveoli in the central acinus.

Panacinar Emphysema

A whole acinus is affected by panacinar emphysema.

Paraseptal Emphysema

It is thought that the fundamental lesion of pulmonary bullous illness is paraseptal emphysema.

Diagnostic Test For Emphysema

Emphysema diagnosis and treatment are interconnected as an accurate diagnosis leads to an effective treatment. The following diagnostic tests for emphysema are extremely helpful in providing the best treatment for emphysema:-


To find out if you take longer to exhale than the typical person in your age group, you will be asked to blow into a spirometer. Other symptoms, such as lips that are bluish or unintended weight loss, can additionally be examined by doctors for an early emphysema diagnosis.

Lung Function Tests

It measures the amount of air held in your lungs when you exhale and the efficiency with which oxygen from the air enters your blood.

Pulse Oximeter

It is attached to your fingertip and gauges blood oxygen levels to determine if your heart and lungs are adequately supplying your body with oxygen from the air.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

It provides a more comprehensive imaging of the lungs that more clearly displays if the airways and air sacs have been affected by the disease.

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