Emphysema is a condition affecting the lungs. It can be described as a respiratory disorder in which tiny air sacs called alveoli, which are found in the lungs, are stretched out of shape or ruptured due to variety of factors.
During the early stages of emphysema, most people do not display all of the symptoms, only a few symptoms become evident, the predominant one being shortness of breath. The disease usually progresses slowly and therefore changes in breathing may hardly be noticed. In some cases, a typical person is most unlikely to experience symptoms right up to a point when something really drastic or unusual is done. For example, if he has smoked one complete pack of cigarettes per day for over 20 years.
If you smoke, kicking the habit can help. There is conclusive scientific evidence to support that quitting smoking can help prevent emphysema or slow its progression. You also can limit your exposure to air pollution by restricting your outdoor activity when there are reports of high smog levels. People exposed to harmful chemicals at work should speak to their employers about respirator masks or should consult with a specialist in occupational medicine.
People diagnosed with emphysema should ask their doctors about vaccinations against influenza (flu) and pneumococcal pneumonia. These vaccinations can help to prevent life-threatening respiratory infections in people with lung disease.
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