Emphysema is a condition that can actually qualify someone for a disability. It is a chronic lung condition where the air spaces that the lungs have become enlarged, but in a reduce quantity. When emphysema is present, the tissues of the lung will also begin to lose some of its elastic nature, so lower amounts of oxygen can be processed with every breath. People with this condition will find it difficult to breathe. Here are some interesting facts that you may not have known about this condition.
1. Smoking is the #1 cause of emphysema today.
Smoking has been continually declining in many regions of the world for 50 years, but it is still happening today. 20% of people who smoke a pack of cigarettes per day for two decades will develop lung disease. 5 out of every 6 people who have lung cancer were smokers. The fumes and irritants in the cigarette smoke are also known to affect the living tissues of the lungs and create this condition.
2. Just one infection can make it happen.
Any time there is damage to the tissues of the lung, there is the potential of emphysema developing. Something as simple as an infection of the lung’s tissues or one within the respiratory tract somewhere can be enough to create emphysema – even if a person has been completely healthy and a non-smoker. It also works in reverse: people with emphysema are more likely to experience infections.
3. It can be passed along by parents.
Although it happens less than 1% of the time, emphysema can also be caused by a genetic condition. It happens where there is a fault with a person’s alpha-1-antitrypsin. If there is a deficiency present and a person with this disorder would choose to smoke, then the risks of severe emphysema would be increased dramatically. Even the natural aging process could create higher risks in people with the genetic variant.
4. Damage can’t be reversed.
When the tissues of the lung are damaged, they aren’t just going to heal and go back to the way they used to be. They will stay damaged and their elasticity will remain forever altered. The symptoms of emphysema can typically be managed, especially if an individual is able to stop smoking, but there is no cure for this condition. At best, medication to keep breathing passages open and antibiotics to clear out an infection are the best options that are available.
5. It’s a silent disease.
It is estimated that 24 million people in the United States are suffering from emphysema right now. Out of that population demographic, 50% of them may not yet even know that they have it. Getting a clear diagnosis as soon as possible is absolutely necessary because a person with emphysema, which is a branch of COPD, will die every four minutes in the United States.
It is believed that 4,000 kids under the age of 18 are going to start smoking for the first time every day. These kids are automatically increasing their overall risks of developing emphysema and COPD in their future. That means the time is now, with these interesting facts, to draw attention to this health issue and proactively prevent it so that better health can be achieved.