Hyperinflated lungs, pulmonary overinflation

Overinflation of the lungs (pulmonary emphysema) is caused by irreversible damage to the air sacs in the lung (alveoli).

Overview

Overinflation of the lungs (pulmonary emphysema) is caused by irreversible damage to the air sacs in the lung (alveoli). It is characterised by shortness of breath and chronic coughing. The most important preventive measure is to stop smoking.

Symptoms

Symptoms

Symptoms vary according to the severity of the condition:

Complications

  • Recurrent lung infections that trigger a sudden worsening of the condition
  • Rigid, barrel chest that impairs breathing
  • Myocardial insufficiency (cardiac insufficiency; the heart muscle's pump function is reduced)
  • Loss of strength, with general muscle weakness
  • Lung cancer (bronchial carcinoma)
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - pulmonary emphysema plus chronic bronchitis)

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Chronic bronchitis (exacerbated by smoking, air pollution)
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Aging (normal degeneration of lung tissue)
  • Lack of protective enzymes (Alpha-1 antitrypsin, component of the lung wall)
  • Genetic factors, family predisposition
  • Congenital deformations of individual lung components

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Lung function test (spirometry)
  • Blood test (to measure blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, among others)
  • Lung x-ray
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
Possible therapies
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Antibiotics
  • Inhalation (including with airway-dilating medication)
  • Cough suppressants
  • Oxygen supply through the nose/a mask
  • Operation (removal of the hyperinflated areas of the lungs)

What can I do myself?

  • Avoid harmful substances, in particular industrial dust
  • Stop smoking
  • Regularly do special breathing exercises and inhalations
  • Physiotherapy
  • “Climate therapy” (e.g. extended visit to the Dead Sea)

When to see a doctor?

  • Coughing up phlegm for several weeks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Substantial reduction in physical capacity
  • Respiratory tract infections (colds, flu) if overinflation of the lungs has been diagnosed

Synonyms

COPD, bronchial asthma

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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