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Emphysema of the lungs: symptoms, treatment, life forecast

This lung disease, like emphysema, is accompanied by a cough with sputum, dyspnea, pneumothorax and symptoms of respiratory failure.

Pathology is characterized by a high risk of complications from the lungs and heart, disability and a significant percentage of deaths.


Emphysema of the lungs - what is it and how to treat the disease?

Emphysema of the lung is a disease in which the lungs of the lungs expand, and their walls undergo destruction, as a result of which the lung tissue changes pathologically. Along with asthmatic bronchitis and asthma, pathology refers to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ( COPD ).

From the Greek, "emphysema" translates as "swelling". Among the male population, the disease is diagnosed twice as often, in the elderly, the risk of its development increases.

Emphysema has a progressive nature and is a chronic disease. Due to prolonged inflammation and narrowing of the airway lumen, the lung tissue becomes less elastic, and after expiration in the lungs, more air remains than usual.

The connective tissue (pneumosclerosis with pulmonary emphysema) begins to expand, replacing air patches, and these changes are irreversible.

Emphysema of the lungs

Emphysema is localized and diffuse. In the first case, not all lungs are damaged, but only their individual parts. This variety is often caused by congenital disorders.

In the diffuse type, all pulmonary tissue is affected, which can be a complication of obstructive or allergic bronchitis.

There are also forms of emphysema :

  • Vesicular is the most common, in which changes are irreversible, in most cases this is a complication of other pulmonary diseases;
  • Vicar - an increase in the volume of one site with simultaneous compression of others, while the alveoli are not affected;
  • Old age - the increase in the stiffness of tissues without their destruction, deformation of the lungs;
  • The McLaud syndrome is a one-sided lesion of the vessels and tissues of the lungs of an unclear etiology;
  • Interstitial - accumulation of air under the pleura, between the lobules and in other areas due to rupture of the bronchi or alveoli;
  • An acute swelling of the lung tissue develops after the removal of one of the lungs or due to an attack of asthma.

The causes of emphysema are:

  1. Disturbed microcirculation in the lung tissue;
  2. Bronchial asthma and other obstructive chronic pulmonary pathologies;
  3. Inflammatory process in the alveoli or bronchi;
  4. Smoking, including passive, is considered as one of the main factors of emphysema;
  5. Constant entry into the lungs of toxic compounds, for example, when employed in industrial production;
  6. Hereditary deficiency of α-1 antitrypsin, which leads to the fact that proteolytic enzymes begin to destroy alveolar tissues.

Under the influence of these factors, elastic lung tissue is damaged, its ability to normal process of filling with air and its removal is disrupted.

Minor ramifications of the bronchial tubes stick together, the lung tissue becomes swollen and overgrown, air cysts, or bulls, are formed. Their rupture leads to pneumothorax . With emphysema, the lungs are enlarged and resemble a sponge with large pores.

Symptoms of emphysema

Symptoms of emphysema

Symptoms of pulmonary emphysema:

  • even shortness of breath;
  • sharp weight loss;
  • barrel shaped chest;
  • slouch;
  • the gaps between the ribs are widened;
  • protrusion of supraclavicular pits;
  • weakened and sometimes absent breathing when listening with a phonendoscope.

With diffuse emphysema, the X-ray shows increased transparency of the lung zone and a low-lying diaphragm. The heart begins to take a more vertical position and increases respiratory failure.

Symptoms of localized type emphysema develop due to the fact that the affected areas of the lungs are pressurized into healthy areas, as a result, pronounced disturbances in breathing up to asphyxia attacks develop.

There is a high risk of rupture of air subpleural cavities, in which air penetrates into the cavity of the pleura.

Treatment of emphysema

Treatment of emphysema

Methods of treatment of emphysema are aimed at eliminating respiratory failure and the causes of damage to lung tissue, for example, any disease.

The first condition for successful therapy is a complete cessation of smoking. This is helped not only by special drugs containing nicotine, but also by the patient's motivation and psychological help.

With emphysema, developed due to another pathology, use funds for the treatment of primary disease. These are drugs from the group of antibiotics and expectorants (mucolytics), selected by the doctor individually.

To facilitate breathing, exercises are shown that allow the use of a larger volume of lungs in the air exchange.

Segmental, acupressure or classical massage is carried out for better sputum discharge. To expand the lumen of the bronchi medications are prescribed Salbutamol, Berodual or Theophylline.

Variable delivery to the lungs of air with a low and normal oxygen content is used if the respiratory failure is low. The course of this treatment of emphysema is designed for 2-3 weeks.

  • If the malfunction of the respiratory process is expressed, inhalations are carried out with small doses of pure oxygen or ionized air, and in extreme cases - ventilation of the lungs.

Bullous emphysema often requires surgical intervention, the purpose of which is to remove air cysts (bulls). The operation is performed in a classical way or minimally invasive (with the help of an endoscope), and its timely prevention prevents the development of pneumothorax.

Emphysema of the lungs - life expectancy and mortality

life forecast for emphysema

Without proper and timely treatment, pathology progresses steadily, cardiac and respiratory failure develops. This leads to disability of the patient and his disability. In this case, with lung emphysema, the prognosis of life is unfavorable, and a lethal outcome may occur earlier than in 3-4 years.

But if the therapy is performed, inhalations are regularly used, then despite the irreversibility of lung injury, the quality of life can be improved.

Theoretically, a relatively favorable forecast is a life expectancy of 4-5 years, but under good conditions a person can live with emphysema 10-20 years and longer.


If the pathology rapidly progresses or treatment is not performed, such complications of emphysema develop:

  • failure of obstructive pulmonary ventilation;
  • pulmonary hypertension ;
  • heart failure of the right ventricle and as a consequence, ascites, leg swelling, hepatomegaly.

The most dangerous consequence is spontaneous pneumothorax, in which drainage of the pleural cavity and air aspiration are necessary.


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