When you have emphysema, some of the air sacs deep in your lungs have been damaged.
When the bronchi become irritated, the normal elasticity of the air sacs and the walls of the airways are destroyed. People with emphysema need to forcefully blow the air out in order to empty the lungs. Forcing the air out in this way puts pressure on the airways from the outside, compresses them and causes them to collapse. The walls of the tiny air sacs may even tear. Excessive coughing may cause the airways to collapse as well.
|MPG Clip (330K): A journey down the collapsing airway passages, and ending in the deteriorating alveoli.|
As the stretching and tearing of the walls of the air sacs continues, the lungs may become enlarged and less efficient at moving air into the lungs and contaminants out of the lungs.
Because the walls of the air sacs are destroyed, there is less surface area available for gas exchange. Damage to the air sacs in the lungs not only results in difficulty breathing, but the heart also has to work harder to circulate blood through the lungs. All these changes make less oxygen available to the body.
Emphysema is characterized by a large barrel-shaped chest, a poor air pumping system, and shortness of breath (SOB). In advanced stages, every breath is difficult. A cough may or may not be present with emphysema.
|Chronic Bronchitis||Diagnosis of COPD|