What are the symptoms of emphysema?

The primary symptom of emphysema is shortness of breath, which may or may not be accompanied by other symptoms.

Common symptoms of emphysema

You may experience emphysema symptoms daily or just once in a while. At times, any of these emphysema symptoms can be severe:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Clubbing of the fingers and toes (thickening of the tissue beneath the nail beds)
  • Coughing up clear, yellow, light brown, or green mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Wheezing (whistling sound made with breathing)

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, emphysema can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Bluish coloration of the lips or fingernails
  • Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Respiratory or breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, wheezing, not breathing, or choking
INTRODUCTION

What is emphysema?

Emphysema is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that causes destruction of the air sacs in the lungs, resulting in reduced lung capacity and difficulty breathing. Emphysema is a common respiratory disorder in the United States: about 3.7 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with it. People over 45 years of age are most likely to develop emphysema (Sou... Read more about emphysemaintroduction

CAUSES

What causes emphysema?

Emphysema is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that causes destruction of the air sacs of the lungs, resulting in reduced lung capacity and difficulty breathing. The most common cause of emphysema is smoking. Rarely, nonsmokers develop emphysema as the result of an inherited deficiency in alpha-1 antitrypsin, a protein made in the liver that helps protect the lung tissue.... Read more about emphysemacauses

TREATMENTS

How is emphysema treated?

Treatment for emphysema begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. The goal of treatment is to improve breathing. Severe cases not responding to therapy or accompanied by serious bleeding may require surgical resection, or, in rare cases, lung transplant.... Read more about emphysematreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Lungs, Breathing and Respiration


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