Emphysema Symptoms and Signs

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If you’ve been smoking for some time you realize what detrimental effects it has on your health. One of the major diseases linked to cigarette smoke exposure is emphysema. After years of exposure to cigarette smoke you may be short of breath, unable to walk up and down stairs easily or run short distances, but are you suffering from emphysema?

Only your doctor, after completing some medical imaging, can tell you whether or not you actually have the disease, but here are some emphysema symptoms and signs to watch for:

  • Shortness of Breath
    While many smokers experience this symptom, only certain ones will actually have emphysema. Severe shortness of breath for several months, or that makes talking difficult is a common symptom of the disease.
  • Wheezing
    Wheezing is another typical symptom of emphysema. Sometimes wheezing can be attributed to a lower respiratory infection, but it should be looked at by your doctor to rule out something more severe.
  • Unintended Weight loss
    This symptom is caused by the loss of appetite that comes with emphysema. This may be due to the shortness of breath during mealtimes.
  • Chronic Cough
    This may be productive or non-productive.
  • Decreased Exercise Tolerance
    In advanced cases, patients with emphysema have trouble walking for even short distances without getting winded.
  • Barrel Chest
    This term refers to the shape the chest takes during the later stages of the disease.
  • Swelling
    Some patients experience edema, or swelling, of the feet legs and ankles.

Resources:
http://www.medicinenet.com/emphysema/page2.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/emphysema/DS00296/DSECTION=symptoms
http://copd.about.com/od/emphysema/tp/emphysemasymptoms.htm

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