Emphysema is a chronic lung disease.
It is often caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or long-term exposure to tobacco smoke.
Emphysema is characterized by loss of elasticity of the lung tissue; destruction of structures supporting the alveoli; and destruction of capillaries feeding the alveoli.
The result is that the small airways collapse during expiration, leading to an obstructive form of lung disease (airflow is impeded and air is generally “trapped” in the lungs in obstructive lung diseases).
Symptoms are: shortness of breath on exertion – typically when climbing stairs or inclines (and later at rest), hyperventilation and an expanded chest.
As emphysema progresses, clubbing of the fingers may be observed, a feature of longstanding hypoxia..
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a group of respiratory tract diseases that are characterized by airflow obstruction or limitation.
The most common cause is tobacco smoking, but COPD can also be caused by exposure to other airway irritants like coal dust or solvents.
In some cases there are no known causes (idiopathic COPD) or the disease may arise due to congenital defects.
COPD is a progressive disease.
Obstructive changes in spirometry and decreases in diffusion capacity are typically seen before symptoms occur.
Early signs and symptoms are shortness of breath on exertion, recurrent respiratory infections or a morning cough..
Bronchitis is an obstructive pulmonary disease characterized by inflammation of the bronchi of the lungs.
Bronchitis can be acute (short-term), or chronic (long-lasting).
Chronic bronchitis is defined clinically as a persistent cough that produces sputum for at least three months in two consecutive years..
An alveolus (plural: alveoli), is an anatomical structure that has the form of a hollow cavity.
In the lung, the pulmonary alveoli are spherical outcroppings of the respiratory bronchioles and are the primary sites of gas exchange with the blood.
Alveoli are peculiar to mammalian lungs; different structures are involved in gas exchange in other vertebrates.
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