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COPD- Emphysema and Lung Disease From Smoking: Warning Signs and Symptoms- Our Experience

Updated on October 24, 2018

Still Want To Smoke?

Stop smoking campaign picture to help see what you are doing to yourself.
Stop smoking campaign picture to help see what you are doing to yourself.

What is Emphysema and COPD

If you smoke, I highly recommend reading this. Smoking can cause emphysema and COPD. (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) COPD is a progressive disease of the lungs.

Emphysema happens when lung tissue is destroyed and causes shortness of breath, causes wheezing and coughing up mucus. I have seen people with emphysema have to carry a roll of paper towels with them because they are coughing up mucus all day or because of the chronic bronchitis which is also a part of COPD.

Emphysema is part of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. A good way to think about what emphysema is, is to think about a brand new sponge you just got. You use it a few times, and the sponge starts to deteriorate a little. If you use the same sponge over and over, it starts to break down. It starts to get large holes and kind of stringy and pulled apart. That's what your lung looks like with emphysema.

The over-used sponge is a way to think of your lungs now. Air flow is affected and also blood flow.

Remember: Emphysema is permanent-it doesn't go away once you get it. You can help the symptoms and get treatment, but it's permanent.

I am going to have to be honest if I am going to write you this article. I myself, am a smoker. Yes, I know; my bad. I know people that have emphysema, and let me tell you, it's a nightmare. Wondering whether they are going to choke in their sleep or suffocate in their own mucus is always a wonder. I have known someone that passed away from suffocating in their sleep because she wasn't able to cough up the mucus.

Perhaps this article will not only help you, but help me too. Not only does smoking lead to emphysema and COPD, it can also lead to other cancers. Such as throat cancer, cervical cancer and more.

Picture Of A Normal Chest X-Ray

This is what a healthy, normal chest X-ray looks like. Compare it to the one above with emphysema. See the difference?
This is what a healthy, normal chest X-ray looks like. Compare it to the one above with emphysema. See the difference?

Picture of Emphysema In The Lung

Picture of Emphysema in The Lung
Picture of Emphysema in The Lung

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

There are two (2) main types of COPD which is an obstruction of the airway that happens because of emphysema or chronic bronchitis, (or sometimes both). This disease doesn't just happen overnight, it progresses over time. The coughing of mucous will generally get worse over a period of years from the emphysema and COPD.

Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic Bronchitis is also a part of COPD. Chronic bronchitis is normally a daily cough with spitting up of mucus. Normally, if you have emphysema, you have the chronic bronchitis. They go hand in hand. With the bronchitis, your lungs swell and get inflamed, which makes it harder for you to breathe because it narrows or obstructs the airways.

Symptoms of Emphysema

Symptoms are not easily recognized at first because like I said earlier, it is a slow and gradual process; so they may not be known for years to come. However; there are some signs you can watch out for. There is not a cure for Emphysema, but if you know the signs earlier, then you may have a better treatment outcome. Here is what to watch out for:

  • Rapid Breathing

  • Shortness of Breath

  • Wheezing

  • Chronic Coughing (not always with mucus)

  • Weight Loss because of loss of appetite

Trying to Open Lungs Using Breathing Exercises

NicoDerm CQ Nicotine Patch, Clear, Step 1 to Quit Smoking, 21mg, 14 Count
NicoDerm CQ Nicotine Patch, Clear, Step 1 to Quit Smoking, 21mg, 14 Count

My mom, had to of course quit smoking; I am also a trying to quit (again). I have been using the Nicoderm for about 2 weeks and it has helped! It's more of the hand-to-mouth that I miss, so I may consider vaping or purchasing suckers.



There is no cure for COPD, but there are ways to improve your quality of life by trying to prevent the symptoms that comes along with it.

Treatment options

  1. Quit Smoking!
  2. Oxygen Therapy
  3. Surgery
  4. Medicines

You will need to exercise to keep your lungs working. Your Dr. will tell you which treatment is best for your disease.

Let's recap to clarify any confusion:

  • Emphysema is part of COPD

  • Chronic Bronchitis is another part of COPD

Smoking and Emphysema

Who knows someone that has Emphysema or COPD

See results

COPD and Emphysema Video-Explaining The Differences


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Superb inomafrtion here, ol'e chap; keep burning the midnight oil.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      earlier, just good, practical, coommn-sense information.Even my pulmonologist agrees that it is the best resource material he has seen! And as far as I'm concerned, that's the best recommendation of all!It really WILL help me to live a better, more fulfilling life. It will help you too. But you've got to read it first. You'll be glad you did.I KNOW I AM. Help other customers find the most helpful reviewsa0Was this review helpful to you?a0 | a0

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      63 of 63 people found the fowlnliog review helpful Helping You Find the Way, December 13, 1999Bya0 (Holland, Michigan) This review is from: If you or someone you love has been given the diagnosis of COPD, you may be asking, What now? Is there anything that can be done? Is there hope? The answer is, Yes! Life can be good with COPD and this book is a most valuable resource for the COPD patient, caregiver, and health care professional.As a respiratory therapist working in Pulmonary Rehab I see that patients who learn about their disease and how to cope with the changes it brings live healthier, happier lives. They know that education, exercise, and support as well as a positive attitude are so important.Courage and Information for Life with COPD is not only your map to learning, among other things, about finding a great specialist, taking breathing medications, using supplemental oxygen if needed, and finding help and support in your community. It is the story of a lady who has experienced the devastation of the diagnosis and not only lives, but thrives with COPD! Jo-Von Tucker's search for knowledge has helped her to move from the role of patient / victim to that of person / survivor. You must know that you do not have to face COPD alone! When reading Courage and Information you will surely say, That's me. Jo-Von's been through some of the same things that I'm going through.There are so many things you can do to help yourself. Changed as it may be, you can live a rich and full life, even with COPD. Courage and Information willl help you find the way. Help other customers find the most helpful reviewsa0Was this review helpful to you?a0 | a0

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Central USA

      Thank you so much for the comment! I hope it helped. Thanks

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This was very informative. Thank you, Barb

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Central USA

      Wow..congrats on your quitting. I have family with COPD and I wish they'd quit. I worry about them all the time. The wheezing, coughing up mucus all day, etc. Glad you quit

    • lmw5 profile image


      6 years ago

      I smoked over a pack a day for 20 years and I ended up with the diagnosis of COPD when I finally quit smoking back in 2005. It was the hardest thing to do. I just did it cold turkey.

    • weezyschannel profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Central USA

      yes, I do agree. And you are very welcome! By the way, I love your articles..anyone reading this, needs to check out her stories as well. She has some wonderful things to say!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      This was a very educational read for me. I have seen the commercials on TV on medication for this but knew little about the disease. I hate that people have to suffer in this fashion. Thanks for sharing.


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