What is Emphysema like?
Since emphysema is usually the result of a long-lasting lung disease, it shows pronounced symptoms. Typical is respiratory distress, which occurs initially only during exercise, later also at rest. Cough can, but does not have to exist.
Due to the increased work of breathing, which is manifested by an increased respiratory rate and breathing sounds, the chest assumes a barrel-shaped form. Since there is insufficient oxygen in the blood, the patients have cyanosis (blue color of the lips, nails and mucous membranes). They lose weight and muscle mass and are prone to infections.
Heart failure as a result of emphysema
The destruction of the tissue also destroys blood vessels, which results in an increase in pressure in the pulmonary circulation. The right ventricle must pump more and therefore thickened increasingly. At some point, the heart muscle no longer creates the load, becomes flaccid and large and the blood builds up in the systemic circulation.
This right heart failure (cor pulmonale) leads, among other things to leg edema, ascites and congestion in the liver and stomach.
How is the diagnosis made?
In addition to the medical history and the symptoms are typical changes that the doctor can hear when tapping and listening to the lungs. Important not only for the diagnosis, but also the therapy is a lung function test (spirometry). The swollen lungs can be easily seen in the X-ray or a computed tomographic image of the chest.