Emphysema is a medical condition that affects the alveoli or air sac of your lungs. The alveoli are filled capillaries where the oxygen gets into the blood. Also, this is where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide happens. In emphysema, there is over-inflation of the alveoli, damaging the tissues in the air sacs which will result in impossible air exchange. Emphysema is listed as one of the disorders of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD since there is an obstruction in the airflow upon exhalation.
Emphysema can change lungs functionality in many ways. Since there is the destruction of the lung tissues around smaller airways it will trap air gases in the alveoli preventing gas exchange and exhalation. Eventually, the elasticity of the lungs will be lost. When this happens not only is the air exchange affected but also blood flow is affected.
Studies concluded that the most common cause of emphysema is cigarette smoking. However, there are still people who smoke who don’t get the disease. However here is how cigarette smoking affects the lungs. When an individual smoke, there is damage made to the lung tissues, which will cause obstruction and it causes inflammation and irritation of airways that can add to airflow obstruction. There are also additional factors that could contribute to the development of lung disorder.
When there is an enzyme deficiency called alpha 1 antitrypsin, the chances of a person developing emphysema is doubled. Heredity, age, sex, and air pollution also contribute to the factors.
Here is how the risk factors can add risk in developing emphysema.
Hereditary – If emphysema runs in the family, chances are high that you will develop emphysema too especially if you are lacking an enzyme in your body. This enzyme called alpha-1-antitrypsin is responsible for fight bacteria or other foreign substance and particles that get inhaled or eaten. Another reason is attributed to the sensitivity of the lung tissues.
Air pollution – When inhaling polluted air or smog, it will have the same damage done by cigarette smoking.
Bronchial asthma – Chances are high that if you have asthma, it will lead to the development of emphysema.
Sex – It is the male species that are most affected by emphysema. The cause is unknown but it can be attributed to the hormones.
Age – Older individuals have the tendency to develop emphysema since the older the person gets, so is the lung functionality.
If you think you are suffering from Emphysema you should seek medical assistance. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. The SSA considered Emphysema as a medical condition that would make you eligible for SSDI and SSI. Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “Listing of Medical Impairments” (known as the blue book) that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).