Causes of Emphysema

By james
Jun 15, 2020
Medical Expert Medical Expert

When we inhale air, oxygen is absorbed from the air in our lungs and into the blood. This is achieved with the help from alveoli, which are tiny sacs that are found on the lining of the lungs. These sacs help to significantly increase the surface area of the lungs, allowing us to absorb more oxygen in each breath we take.

Emphysema is a condition in which these sacs become damaged and this, in turn, means our lungs are less effective at absorbing oxygen. This will result in the patient experiencing symptoms like being mentally slower than usual, extremities turning blue, and shortness of breath. There are a number of potential causes of emphysema.

1. Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

In some cases, emphysema is caused by the deficiency of a protein known as alpha-1-antitrypsin. This protein helps to protect the structures in the lungs, mainly by preventing white blood cells from damaging the tissues. This means that the cells are more likely to become damaged, and this can lead to emphysema. The damage caused by alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is likely to be worse than the damage from other causes, making emphysema likely. Thankfully, it is a rare condition, with only around 1 in 100,000 people having it in the United States. People with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency are also more likely to develop liver problems.


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