Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.
In this Article
- Emphysema facts
- Introduction to emphysema
- What is emphysema?
- What are the causes or risk factors for emphysema?
- What are symptoms of emphysema?
- How is emphysema diagnosed?
- Physical examination
- Exams and tests
- What are the stages of emphysema?
- What is the treatment for emphysema?
- Smoking cessation
- Medications for emphysema
- Pulmonary rehabilitation for emphysema
- What is the prognosis and life-expectancy of a person with emphysema?
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) FAQs
- Find a local Pulmonologist in your town
What are symptoms of emphysema?
Emphysema is a progressive disease with symptoms beginning in patients after 50 years of age. Prolonged exposure to smoke gradually causes enough lung destruction to cause the characteristic cough and shortness of breath. Affected individuals with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency tend to develop symptoms of emphysema at earlier ages. Emphysema is a subtype of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD in the US; COLD in the United Kingdom). Most patients, except in those in whom disease is the result of a genetic deficiency (alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency), have variable manifestations of the different components of COPD which include:
Each of the subtypes has characteristic symptoms; those primarily associated with emphysema are shortness of breath and wheezing. Initially the shortness of breath (dyspnea) occurs with activity; as time continues and the disease progresses, the episodes of dyspnea occur more frequently eventually occurring at rest making routine daily activities difficult to perform.
How is emphysema diagnosed?
As is the case with most illnesses, the health care provider will take a careful history to learn about the lung and breathing symptoms.
- How long has the shortness of breath been present?
- What makes it better?
- What makes it worse?
- Has there been an infection recently?
- Have the symptoms been getting more severe?
- Does the patient smoke?
- Does the patient have exposure to secondhand smoke or other toxic fumes?
- Are there other exposures of diseases that may be contributing to the shortness of breath?
- Is there a family history of lung disease?
Next: Physical examination
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