Emphysema is a progressive loss of lung tissue and is invariably caused by cigarette smoking. When a person suffers from emphysema, the lung tissue loses it ability to oxygenate blood and this can increase the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood.
A person suffering from emphysema initially shows symptoms of shortness of breath, faces problems performing physical activities, has chronic cough with sputum and wheezing, suffers from weight loss and has a barrel chest.
The disease progresses slowly and once it starts the damage to the lung tissue cannot be reversed. When a person reaches end stage emphysema, it means that only 30 percent of his lungs is functioning and the person is at an increased risk of catching lung infections like pneumonia and bronchitis.
Life expectancy with end stage emphysema is around 5 years or more but if the patient is a smoker, he has to stop smoking immediately. This will help increase the life expectancy. According to doctors, people who smoke and have emphysema risk increasing the severity of the disease and can reduce their life expectancy by 10 years if not more.
Modern medical science is greatly responsible for increasing life expectancy of end stage emphysema. Oxygen therapy, broncholiators, antibiotics and lung reduction surgery are few measures taken to increase life expectancy. People with end stage emphysema and having less than 2 to 3 years of life expectancy are considered for lung transplant. However, there is a lot of controversy over this as many think that those who smoke and risk their health should not be considered as candidates for lung transplant.
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