Emphysema of the lungs - symptoms

Among many lung diseases there is one very common nonspecific form of the disease - emphysema. This pathological condition, characterized by the expansion of the air space of pulmonary bronchioles and the destructive alteration of the alveolar walls.

Symptoms of emphysema

To classical symptoms of diffuse emphysema of the lungs can be attributed the following.

  • First of all, this is the appearance of dyspnea. The most severe degree of dyspnea occurs with primary emphysema. Shortness of breath, which appeared against the background of a complete absence of cough, indicates the beginning of emphysema. The patient with primary emphysema is not able to tolerate minimal physical exertion, as the volume of lung ventilation is very high even in a state of complete rest. With emphysema, such a person usually puffs intensely, exhaling with cheeks and covering his mouth. In the breath of the patient, the muscles of the neck and chest participate additionally. At the very beginning of the disease, shortness of breath is unstable and appears most often in the winter, but then it appears already at another time of the year.

  • Secondary emphysema causes severe disturbances in the gas composition of the blood

  • Both types of emphysema - both primary and secondary - are characterized by a decrease in respiratory excursions, and the chest gradually becomes barrel shaped.

  • Emphysema is indicated by the bulging of the supraclavicular region and intercostal spaces, the appearance of percussion (rustling) sound, a decrease in the mobility of the diaphragm, a change in its location.

  • The radiograph shows increased transparency of the pulmonary fields.

  • At the initial stages of the disease, patients with pulmonary emphysema are forced to take a lying position on the abdomen and lower their head and shoulders down, as this position usually brings relief to the patient. But then emphysema takes a severe form, at which there are serious changes in the chest and fatigue of the respiratory muscles. And this in turn leads to the fact that the diaphragm in the supine position works in a tense mode, and the patient must constantly be in a sitting position, even to sleep. The body is usually slightly inclined, hands rest on the knees or the edge of the bed, table, etc. - this allows you to include additional muscles in the act of breathing and fix the shoulder girdle. In especially severe cases, the tongue becomes blue, cyanosis occurs, the lips and nails turn blue.


    Emphysema of the lungs leads to respiratory and cardiac failure, the occurrence of pneumothorax (air in the thorax), which generally leads to disability.

    What can you do yourself?

    Treatment should begin at the bronchitis stage, that is, before the development of the emphysema - irreversible changes occur because of late treatment to the doctor. The patient is fully aware of the possible consequences and the severity of the disease. Smoking should be ruled out, as well as other harmful effects on lung tissue - this is the first and most important condition for the treatment of emphysema. Physical activity should be limited.