The Symptoms of Emphysema

Weak cough: frothy or heavy yellow expectoration; shortness of breath on making any exertion: voice weak; complexion dusky or bluish: asthmatic attacks: weak pulse; digestion slow; bowels constipated; chest barrel-shaped; slight chest movement in breathing; symptoms of bronchitis.

Pulmonary emphysema consists in an enlargement of the air-cells. In consequence of the abnormal thinning of the walls of the cells, many capillary vessels become atrophied, so that the blood is not suf ficiently aerated, and the system receives an insufficient supply of oxygen. This difficulty is greatly increased by the inability of the lungs to empty themselves, a portion of the impure air charged with carbonic acid gas remaining in the dilated cells, thus preventing the proper purification of the blood. It is the accumulation of this poison in the blood that occasions the blueness of the skin of the face and other parts. The obstruction to the circulation of blood through the lungs occasions congestion of the stomach, liver, and other abdominal organs. Hemorrhoids result in some cases. Out of these remote effects of the affection grow many of the most serious résulte which accompany its long continuance. The condition of the lungs in this disease is shown in Fig. 307.

Fig. 307. A magnified portion of Lung affected by Emphysema.

Fig. 307. A magnified portion of Lung affected by Emphysema. a. Greatly dilated air-cells; b. Cells of natural size (Bennett).

The causes of emphysema are pleurisy, producing adhesions; chronic bronchial catarrh, or bronchitis; violent coughing, as in whooping-cough and dry bronchial catarrh; lifting heavy weights; playing upon wind instruments in an injudicious manner, and similar causes.