My project is covering emphysema, a respiratory condition. Emphysema is a type of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ( COPD), which causes the pulmonary capillaries to get irreversibly damaged. This disease is a pathological condition. This disease is a result of people with a history of smoking. There are two types of emphysema, “normal” and smoking-related. The distinction between these can be easily spotted. Non-smoking patients diagnosed with emphysema always confuse researchers. According to a new study, lung development is likely linked to emphysema. Another study shows other conditions, such as dysanapsis, where the airways grow larger or smaller than usual. When the tissues in the lungs become damaged, this can result in emphysema. More specifically, the connective tissue in the alveolar walls changes. The tissue is likely damaged from the excess enzymes resulting from inflammation. Elasticity is essential for the movement of the lungs. Elastin provides the ability to stretch and recoil. It is required for lung development as well. Emphysema causes destruction in the alveolar structures. This means that the airway can be obstructed, a decreased lung capacity and the ability to breathe becomes more challenging. A person diagnosed with this condition must use about 10-15% more energy to breathe properly. Trapped air causes an expansion of the chest and a flattened diaphragm. This is also known as hyperinflation. Emphysema is a permanent condition and can lead to the development of other medical issues, such as hypoventilation, hypoxemia, hyperinflation, dyspnea, and respiratory acidosis.
There are many ways to detect this condition. Chest X-rays can support the diagnosis and prove the shortness of breath. A CT scan creates images from all angles of the internal organs. The lungs are responsible for transferring oxygen into the bloodstream and removing carbon dioxide. Lab tests, such as blood tests, can help determine if the removal of carbon dioxide and transfer of oxygen is standard. There are also lung function tests. These tests measure the airflow and how much air the lungs can hold. Similar to blood tests, it can also help determine the transfer of oxygen in the bloodstream.
Emphysema can not be cured. However, this condition has treatments, medications, and therapy options. Bronchodilators help by increasing the breathing pattern and reducing cough. This medication targets the airways by trying to un-restrict the area. Steroids are another option. This will relieve shortness of breath as well as inflammation. Antibiotics will help if the patient catches a bacterial infection in the lungs, such as pneumonia. Therapy options include Pulmonary rehabilitation, Nutrition therapy, and supplemental oxygen. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program that shows types of breathing techniques and exercises. This will help relieve shortness of breath. Patients lose weight in the early stages of emphysema, and in the late stages of emphysema, patients likely need to gain weight. Nutrition therapy helps patients with proper nutrition. This will help them maintain a reasonable body weight in the long run. Low oxygen levels show when emphysema occurs in the body. This means the patient will need added oxygen in their system. A narrow tube goes into the nostril, providing oxygen to the user. Doctors may also recommend surgery depending on the severity. A lung transplant is usually the last option doctors recommend. Lung volume reduction surgery removes the damaged tissues in the lungs. This procedure helps the lung tissue expand. The patient will then have improved breathing.


Celli, B. R., Locantore, N., Tal-Singer, R., Riley, J., Miller, B., Vestbo, J., Yates, J. C., Silverman, E. K., Owen, C. A., Divo, M., Pinto-Plata, V., Wouters, E. F. M., Faner, R., & Agusti, A. (2018, February 1). Emphysema and extrapulmonary tissue loss in COPD: A Multi-organ loss of tissue phenotype. European Respiratory Society. 

Golpon, H. A., Coldren, C. D., Zamora, M. R., Cosgrove, G. P., Moore, M. D., Tuder, R. M., Geraci, M. W., & Voelkel, N. F. (2004). Emphysema lung tissue gene expression profiling. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, 31(6), 595–600. 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2017, April 28). Emphysema. Mayo Clinic.

Thurlbeck, W. M., & Müller, N. L. (1994). Emphysema: Definition, imaging, and quantification. American Journal of Roentgenology, 163(5), 1017–1025. 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020, June 9). Lung development may explain why some non-smokers get COPD and some heavy smokers do not. National Institutes of Health.