According to WebMD, symptoms of emphysema include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness or pain. Other less common symptoms are loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, poor sleep quality and decreased sexual function.
Emphysema is a form of long-term lung disease that is usually caused by smoking. It is a slowly progressive disease, which means that the symptoms get worse as time goes on. The onset of symptoms is gradual and usually begins between ages 45 and 60 in smokers, states WebMD. Shortness of breath is caused by the creation of air pockets in the lungs, which is a direct result of the destruction of air sac linings within the lungs. Once air is trapped in these air pockets, then it is difficult to breathe out and results in an enlargement of the lungs and difficulty breathing.
Diagnostic testing that is performed upon suspicion of emphysema includes chest x-rays, pulmonary function tests, arterial blood gases and a complete blood count, states About.com. Treatment options such as bronchodilators, aerosol therapy, antibiotics, corticosteroids and oxygen therapy are available. These treatment options are not cures to the disease but rather help to improve the quality of life and slow the progression of the disease.