The effects of Emphysema on lung function
Emphysema is a lung disease caused by smoking or long term exposure to air pollution. Foreign particles in the smoke become trapped in the alveoli.
This causes inflammation, which attracts phagocytes to the area. The phagocytes produce an enzyme that breaks down the protein elastin (elastic-helps the alveoli to return to their normal shape after inhaling and exhaling air). Loss of elastin means the alveoli can't recoil to expel air as well.
Also leads to destruction of alveoli walls, which reduces the surface area of the alveoli. This reduces the rate of gas exchange in the alveoli. The lack of oxygen reaching the cells leaves sufferers feeling tired and weak.
Symptoms of emphysema include:
shortness of breath and wheezing.
People with emphysema have an increased breathing rate as they try to increase the amount of air reaching their lungs.