Monday, June 16, 2008


Did you know you can come down with empsyshema at birth via lung infections at birth? At least one doctor finally confessed you can actually be BORN with emphysema. Meaning smoking is NOT the only way you can come down with it.

"Although smoking is a common cause, the condition is also linked to lung
infections earlier in life - such as childhood bronchiolitis and
whooping cough. "



Why do I find it so hard to breathe?

By Dr Martin Scurr
Last updated at 10:24 PM on 16th June 2008

Dr Martin Scurr has been treating patients for more than 30 years and
is one of the country's leading GPs. In Good Health, every Tuesday,
he answers your questions ...

I am 64 and suffer from breathlessness. Following various tests,
including a chest X-ray, I've been told that my lungs are over-
inflated and that 'it might be a problem in later life'.

Any idea what's caused this, and what exactly does it mean? I have
never smoked, am not overweight, and have always been extremely fit.
I both climb and ski, and also walk twice daily with my dogs. Ann
Walker, Goole, Yorkshire.

Dr Scurr says...

Breathlessness can be frightening, especially as the advice so far
has left you uncertain about the future.

The medical term for your complaint is emphysema. This is a condition
that people generally associate with smoking, but in fact the term
refers generally to a loss of functioning lung tissue. Although
smoking is a common cause, the condition is also linked to lung
infections earlier in life - such as childhood bronchiolitis and
whooping cough.

Some people develop it through long term-exposure to pollution.

Smoking, lung infections and pollution can damage the walls of the
tiny air sacs in the lungs. These air sacs - or alveoli - play a
vital role in passing oxygen from the airways into the blood. As the
walls are destroyed, the air sacs amalgamate, so that there are fewer
of them. As a result, less oxygen is passed into the blood.

These changes occur slowly over the years. But it sets up a vicious
circle: their increasingly damaged state makes the lungs a perfect
breeding ground for certain types of bacteria. The subsequent
infections then exacerbate the damage.

The usual symptom is breathlessness, even with only minimal exertion.

The lungs can also ' overinflate' . Because the lungs don't function
as well, the patient can't properly expel all the air breathed in
(this is why patients often breathe out through pursed lips - it
helps force the airways open to expel the air).

You also might not be able to breathe in as deeply as normal. Some
patients cough or wheeze, too.

Once damaged, the air sacs do not repair themselves, and there is no
treatment to reverse the process. To contain your emphysema and
minimise the chances of progression, you need to see a chest
physician regularly. And if you develop a respiratory infection, you
should have vigorous treatment with antibiotics as bacterial
infection will worsen the destruction of lung tissue.

You will almost certainly need to use inhalers - similar to those
used by asthmatics - to help you breathe better. These will provide
corticosteroids to keep any inflammation caused by infections or
pollution in the airways well suppressed and so minimise further
reduction of the air sacs.

Bronchodilator drugs are also used to open up the tiny air passages
and ensure high levels of oxygen get to the air sacs and then to the

All of that will enable you to continue to make the best use of the
lung tissue that you have remaining, and reduce the chances of any
further loss of lung tissue.

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