revention, there already had been 12, 790 deaths recorded in the United States only in the year 2007 caused by emphysema alone, while 3.8 million adults were diagnosed with the disease in the year 2008 (“Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary,” 2010). As emphysema affects people, this paper aims to increase the readers’ knowledge on what it is, its signs and symptoms, treatments, and other issues surrounding it.
Emphysema is one form of COPD in addition to chronic bronchitis. It is chronic as it is develops as a result of “many years of assault on lung tissues from cigarette smoke or other toxins that pollute the air” (Lewis, 1999, p. 1). The American Thoracic Society and the European Respiratory Society (2004) define it as “the presence of permanent enlargement of the air spaces distal to the terminal bronchioles, accompanied by destruction of their walls and without obvious fibrosis” (p. 8).
Naturally, the lungs have defenses such as macrophages and other free-roving cells that protect it from foreign particles that could impair its natural functions of breathing and oxygenation. However, this protection from the invading particles is only limited (Boyce, 1997, p. 80). Continued smoking or exposure to polluted air, the main risk factors of emphysema, cause the particles to “tend to stay in the lungs and can cause lung damage” by scarring or forming fibrosis resulting to air sac walls being destroyed leading to COPD and other lung diseases (Crowley, 2010, p. 379; Boyce, 1997, pp. 80-81). Some reports providing link between the developments of emphysema after dental treatments have also started to appear (Gamboa-Vidal, Vega-Pizarro, & Almeida-Arriagada, 2007). Nonetheless, further studies to support such claims are still suggested.
In continuation, the function of the substance elastin that allows flexibility in lungs becomes impaired with smoking habits and exposure to air pollutants (Parkinson, 2007, p. 22). The release of substance