Poor breathing due to fibrosis: emphysema COPD

Good breathing ensures sufficient oxygen supply, so that the body can continue to function optimally without problems. We trust that it will continue to work well throughout our lives. A condition such as emphysema (largely caused by smoking) causes the alveoli to absorb less oxygen, causing the body to become gassy. What does emphysema COPD mean for the patient and what causes it?

Fibrosis, emphysema COPD

  • Function of the alveoli
  • What if it happens?
  • Reason for emphysema COPD
  • Disability
  • Lung transplantation
  • Chances


Function of the alveoli

Well-functioning alveoli have the function of removing carbon dioxide from the blood. By breathing it is removed and new air is supplied. It ensures that oxygen is additionally added to the blood, whereby hemoglobin in combination with iron elements can transport oxygen. In this way, the alveoli ensure that all muscles, tissues and organs receive sufficient oxygen so that they can perform well. What does fibrosis mean and how does it affect the functioning of the alveoli?

What if it happens?

A characteristic of the disease is that the structure of the lungs is affected at a minuscule level. The tissue between the alveoli increases in size, which results in partial or complete pressure on the openings to the alveoli. As a result, the supply and drainage of the alveoli does not or hardly work. It results in lungs that function less well or poorly, causing poor exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. It results in the person breathing poorly, which means that muscles and organs do not receive enough oxygen-rich blood. It means that the functioning of organs is primarily maintained at the expense of properly functioning muscles.

Reason for emphysema COPD

The biggest cause is smoking (85% of cases). People who have smoked regularly and a lot have damaged lungs, which can trigger it. In addition to smoking, asthma can cause damaged lung tissue. Poorly treated bronchitis or pneumonia can also have a negative effect on the condition. It can have serious consequences for the proper functioning of the body. Besides lung cancer, this is the most important reason not to start or stop smoking.


Because the muscles receive less oxygen-rich blood, the person will become overtired more quickly, which increases the risk of disability. The patient can no longer do much himself because it takes too much energy. It often happens that a wheelchair is required together with regular or continuous ventilation. Because one cannot practically do anything themselves, one has to rely on help from others. As the condition progresses and therefore worsens, the degree of disability increases.

Lung transplantation

There is no method to treat pulmonary fibrosis. It is a progressive form of deterioration, causing the person’s mobility and strength to decrease increasingly. The only way to get rid of it is to transplant the lungs, which involves a large waiting list. Until then, people will be dependent on the environment.


Because the person is dependent on the availability of new lungs and the waiting list is long, it can take a long time before the transplant can be done. The condition worsens over time and this means that the level of oxygen supply decreases. The body responds by switching off more and more parts. Based on the complaints and the condition of the lungs, the doctor can fairly accurately predict how the process will proceed. Please note that it may mean that the patient dies prematurely.

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