Almost 4-million Americans received a diagnosis of emphysema in 2018, that’s nearly 2-percent of the population. Statistics show that 2.3 people of every 100,000 develop this chronic condition.
Emphysema is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, (COPD,) and it typically affects cigarette smokers. Individuals who smoke more than 30-cigarettes per day are at a 20-times higher risk of developing the condition when compared to non-smokers. While quitting smoking may decrease the spread of the disease, it’s vital to note that the chronic condition has no cure.
Smoking is the most prevalent cause of the disease, but emphysema also affects around 7-percent of the non-smoking population as well. Individuals with emphysema experience issues with the alveoli, the tiny air sacs found at the end of your bronchial tubes. The alveoli become enlarged and lose elasticity, causing problems with the gaseous exchange within the lungs as they draw in air and expel CO2 through exhalation.
Here are eight uneasy symptoms of the condition. If you notice any of them, arrange an appointment with your physician for a diagnosis.
1. Persistent Coughing
People suffering from emphysema experience a persistent cough that won’t go away, even with the use of cough medicine. The alveoli in the lungs fill with fluid, similar to a bout of bronchitis. This fluid makes it challenging for the lungs to process inhaled air, and causes irritation and inflammation in the air sacs.
This irritation and fluid in the lungs result in a cough that sounds deep and phlegmy. Patients suffering from the condition also notice that they spit up large amounts of thick, dark-green or brown mucus after coughing and after eating meals. Cigarette smoke contains thousands of harmful chemicals and leaves your lungs dirty from the smoke.
The lungs attempt to clear this mucus, and the result is a cough filled with sticky phlegm. Coughing symptoms can be so severe that they wake people affected with the condition while they sleep. Since emphysema is a chronic condition, symptoms tend to increase over time.