Emphysema vs Chronic Bronchitis: Symptoms
Since both emphysema and chronic bronchitis are both classified under COPD, they may have similar symptoms. One major distinction between the symptoms of these two conditions is shortness of breath.
A person with emphysema might only exhibit one tell-tale symptom, which is a shortness of breath. Chronic bronchitis symptoms (like productive cough) are unlikely to be present in someone suffering from emphysema. Additionally, emphysema can be described as a chronic disease. This means that the appearance of symptoms are gradual and might progress without treatment. Chronic bronchitis symptoms are sporadic and may have periods of flare-ups and remission (period of inactivity).
Another major difference between the symptoms of emphysema and chronic bronchitis is the type of fatigue one can experience. Emphysema and bronchitis can both cause fatigue or tiredness. However, a person with emphysema might appear to be extremely fatigued to the point of not being able to do the tasks or jobs they normally used to do without difficulty.
People suffering from emphysema might also experience developing a blue tinge on their fingernails due to a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. This is uncommon in patients with chronic bronchitis.
Emphysema vs Chronic Bronchitis: Causes
Both of these lung conditions share the same causes such as smoking or constant exposure to irritants (examples include secondhand smoke and fumes). However, they differ in the part of the lungs which they primarily affect. Emphysema primarily affects the alveoli, while chronic bronchitis mainly affects the bronchi.
In patients with emphysema, chronic damage to the air sacs can weaken the walls of the air sacs, causing them to collapse or rupture. This can lead to the lungs producing less oxygen than it did before, resulting in shortness of breath. The damage to the alveoli also significantly affects the quality of oxygen in the lungs.