Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - Emphysema
Emphysema is a serious disease in which the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs are damaged and lose their elasticity. The damage develops slowly as cigarette smoke causes the body to overproduce enzymes known as proteases. These enzymes cause damage in the thin and fragile tissues of the alveoli. These tiny compartments become unnaturally enlarged and the elasticity of the lungs is lost. Pockets of dead air form in the injured areas and the lungs become unable to expand and contract normally and breathing becomes difficult. Meanwhile, the patient grows progressively weaker. At first they may experience only minimal shortness of breath. Eventually, however, the patient is unable to attempt even minor physical activity, and in the end, is dependent on administration of oxygen, even at rest.