SYMPTOMS OF EMPHYSEMA
Emphysema usually develops in older individuals (50- 60 years) with a long smoking history. However, people with severe genetic deficiency of Alpha 1 Antitrypsin usually develop symptoms of COPD by the time they reach early middle age (30- 40 years).
Symptoms develop slowly and the patients lose 50- 70% of the lung tissue by the time symptoms begin to appear.
- Shortness of breath during activity which later on is observed even at rest.
- Chronic cough may be present but is usually not severe and does not produce much mucus.
- Wheezing (whistling sound).
- Bluish discoloration (cyanosis) of skin because of lack of oxygen.
- Emphysema patient presents as “pink puffers” (because of hypoxia).
- Other associated symptoms include :
- Nasal flaring
- Bulging of eyes with vision abnormalities
- Difficulty in breathing especially on lying down
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Excessive drowsiness especially in daytime
- Loss of sleep or difficulty in falling asleep
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Frequent awakening at night
- Anxiety and stress
- Impaired ability to concentrate
- Memory loss
- Clubbing of fingers and toes (a sign of chronic hypoxemia i.e. lack of oxygen in blood))
- Swelling of ankle, feet and legs
- Signs include :
- Decreased breath sounds
- Abnormal breath sounds (rales)
- Prolonged expiration (expiration is twice as long as inspiration)
- Barrel shaped chest