Emphysema is a condition affecting the lungs that results in shortness of breath. Individuals with emphysema have damaged alveoli, which are the air sacs in the lungs. Over time in emphysema, the inner walls of the alveoli weaken and then rupture. This creates large sacs of air instead of small ones, as there should be. Ultimately, emphysema makes it difficult to breathe as less oxygen reaches the bloodstream.
Emphysema is also associated with chronic bronchitis and may patients suffer from both conditions. Together, emphysema and bronchitis fall under the umbrella of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a respiratory disease and is on the list of the leading causes of death in the United States. Emphysema is typically caused by smoking, and symptoms range from mild to severe and include shortness of breath, coughing, and the production of excess phlegm.
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Stress wreaks havoc on the body’s physical functions as much as an individual’s mental health. Too much stress contributes to making symptoms of emphysema even more difficult to live with. It is hard enough to breathe easily with these conditions, but adding stressful situations impacts shortness of breath and the body’s ability to fight inflammation. This is precisely why stress relief can put the body in the best position possible for other treatment options for emphysema. Stress relief won’t make the condition disappear, but it does prevent unneeded aggravation of symptoms. Simple stress relief techniques include practicing yoga on a regular basis, meditating every day in the morning or at night, reading a good book, and going for a walk in the fresh air. Of course, there is a lot of leeway in what can act as stress relief, as what may relieve stress for one person may not work for another. Find what works and put it into practice!
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