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What are the signs and symptoms of emphysema?
Emphysema is a progressive disease with the most common and characteristic symptoms of cough and shortness of breath caused by prolonged smoke exposure.
Affected individuals with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency tend to develop symptoms of emphysema at earlier ages. Emphysema is a subtype of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD in the US; COLD, chronic obstructive lung disease in the United Kingdom). Most patients, except in those in whose disease is the result of a genetic deficiency (alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency), have variable manifestations of the different components of COPD which include:
Each of the subtypes has characteristic symptoms; those primarily associated with emphysema are shortness of breath and wheezing. Initially the shortness of breath (dyspnea) occurs with activity; as time continues and the disease progresses, the episodes of dyspnea occur more frequently eventually occurring at rest making routine daily activities difficult to perform and thus alters the lifestyle.