What're the risk factors for emphysema?
The primary risk factor for the development of emphysema is tobacco abuse. Cigarette smoke contributes to this disease process in 2 ways. It destroys lung tissue, which is the cause of the obstruction, and it causes inflammation and irritation of airways that can cause the disease to get worse. It is not possible to predict in any individual smoker who will develop
emphysema, how long it will take, or how many cigarettes one must smoke. In fact, most smokers do not develop symptomatic emphysema, suggesting that most people have sufficient reserve capacity in the lung to get by despite any damage.
Air pollution acts in a similar manner to cigarette smoke. The pollutants cause inflammation in the airways, leading to lung tissue destruction. Abnormal airway reactivity, such as bronchial asthma, has been shown to be a risk factor for the development of emphysema. Men are more likely to develop emphysema than women. The exact reason for this is unknown, but differences between male and female hormones are suspected. Older age is a risk factor for emphysema. Lung function normally declines with age. Therefore, it stands to reason that the older the person, the more likely they will have enough lung tissue destruction to produce emphysema. In a few individuals, genetic factors such as a reduced level or activity of protective enzymes in the lung (such as occurs in alpha1-antiprotease deficiency) may result in emphysema even in the absence of smoking, but this is much rarer.
More information on emphysema
What is emphysema? - Emphysema is a lung disease that reduces the ability of the lungs to expel air, a process which depends upon the elastic properties of the lungs.
What causes emphysema? - Cigarette smoking is the major cause of emphysema. Among other causes of emphysema are industrial pollutants, aerosol sprays, non-tobacco smoke.
What're the risk factors for emphysema? - The primary risk factor for the development of emphysema is tobacco abuse. Air pollution is another risk factor for emphysema.
What are the complications of emphysema? - Emphysema patients are at increased risk of contracting recurrent respiratory infections and lung cancer. Emphysema is a very serious disease.
What are the symptoms of emphysema? - Symptoms of emphysema include shortness of breath on exertion, unexplained weight loss, increased chest size, wheezing or labored breathing.
How is emphysema diagnosed? - Diagnosis of emphysema begins with a medical history and physical examination. Lung function tests can identify emphysema in Stage 0.
What's the treatment for emphysema? - No treatment can reverse or stop emphysema, but steps can be taken to relieve symptoms, treat complications and minimize disability.
How to prevent emphysema? - Many risk factors for emphysema can be completely eliminated. The best method to prevent emphysema is to avoid smoking.