The lungs comprise of millions of small air sacs called alveoli, which get inflated with air when we breathe in and collapse when we breathe out. These alveoli sacs allow the blood to absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide to support the various metabolic activities that take place within the cells of the body.
Emphysema is a chronic disorder affecting the lungs which is associated with damage of these air sacs causing them to become larger than normal, while reducing their numbers. In this condition, the alveoli lose their elasticity which in effect reduces the ability to exchange gases with the environment and thereby result in breathing difficulties.
Causes Of Emphysema
Here are some important causes that have been linked with the onset of emphysema,
- Smoking of cigarettes is considered to be the leading cause for the onset of emphysema. Estimates suggest that at least one in five people who smoke a pack of cigarettes each day for over 20 years can develop this condition.
- Respiratory tract infections which have either not been treated adequate or very serious in nature can lead to lung tissue damage resulting in emphysema.
- Heredity is also considered to be a contributing factor with genetic anomaly called homozygous alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency increasing the risk of the condition. This cause accounts to less than 1% of all cases of emphysema.
- Natural process of aging is also linked with development of emphysema in the elderly. The alveoli sacs eventually lose their elasticity as they are exposed to air pollution.
Symptoms Of Emphysema
Emphysema is a condition which has a gradual onset with very few symptoms in the beginning with gradual increasing severity of the symptoms,
- Shortness of breath on exertion is one of the first apparent symptoms. As the condition progresses, the person may suffer from shortness of breath even while performing routine activities or while resting. In the advanced stages of the condition the individual may suffer from shortness of breath even while talking or eating.
- Fatigue, tightness in chest and chronic cough are experienced with increasing severity as the disease progresses.
- As a complication to lung damage, an individual in advanced stages of this condition may suffer from pulmonary hypertension along with edema in the legs, abdominal bloating and prominent pulsations of the veins in the neck.
- One of the most serious complications of the condition is when the air sacs expand and rupture, resulting in accumulation of air in the pleural space (i.e. the cavity surrounding the lungs). This is a life threatening condition and requires immediate hospitalization.
- As a result of poor oxygenation of the blood, the body increases the level of red blood cells (secondary polycythemia), which is associated with higher risk of blood clots.
How To Treat Emphysema Naturally?
While lifestyle modifications like avoiding smoking and reducing exposure to environmental toxins and secondhand smoke are essential in the management of the condition. Some of the natural home remedies that can be useful during the initial stages of emphysema include,
- Studies have shown that coenzyme Q10 taken over a period of two months can help in alleviating most of the symptoms associated with chronic lung condition.
- Studies have shown that consumption of curcumin (an active ingredient of turmeric) can help reverse the progression of emphysema. Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory agent which helps reduce the severity of the symptoms; however there is considerable amount of ambiguity over the ideal dosage required.
- Having a healthy and well-balanced diet and regular exercise plays a vital role in the treatment of the condition.