Sign Up For FREE
Health After 50 Alerts!

We value your privacy and will never rent your email address

Health After 50

Rare Condition Can Trigger Emphysema

Comments (0)

A reader of†Scientific American Consumer Health's Health After 50†newsletter writes: "My doctor says my emphysema may be caused by a condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. What is it?" Here's what you need to know about this condition.

Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is a rare, inherited condition that primarily affects the lungs. In most people, the liver produces a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT). AAT provides protection from a potentially destructive enzyme known as neutrophil elastase. Neutrophil elastase fights infection, but it can also attack healthy tissues in the lungs and liver. People with AAT deficiency either donít make enough of this protein or they produce an abnormal form of it, both of which allow neutrophil elastase to accumulate and cause organ damage.

The first symptoms of AAT deficiency are usually shortness of breath, wheezing and a decreased ability to exercise. Sufferers may also experience weight loss, fatigue and recurring respiratory infections. Liver-related symptoms include yellowing of the eyes and skin, blood in the stool and abdominal swelling. About 15 percent of sufferers develop cirrhosis (liver scarring).

Although AAT deficiency can be diagnosed as early as age 20, itís not uncommon for people to be diagnosed with AAT deficiency in their 40s or 50s when breathing difficulties become more noticeable. The condition can be tough to spot because its symptoms overlap with those of common respiratory ailments like emphysema or asthma. A person may actually have these other conditions but never realize they have AAT deficiency as well. Others may live normally with no or mild symptoms and never know they have AAT.†

Posted in Lung Disorders on April 20, 2016


Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Health After 50 Disclaimer


Notify Me

Would you like us to inform you when we post new Lung Disorders Health Alerts?

Post a Comment

Comments

Health After 50 Alerts registered users may post comments and share experiences here at their own discretion. We regret that questions on individual health concerns to the editors cannot be answered in this space.

The views expressed here do not constitute medical advice, and do not represent the position of Scientific American Health After 50 or Remedy Health Media, LLC, which has no responsibility for any comments posted on this site.


Post a Comment


Already a subscriber?

Login

Forgot your password?

New to Health After 50?

Register to submit your comments.

(example: [email protected])

Log-in:

Forgot Password?

This comprehensive report provides the latest research on the prevention and treatment of the most common lung diseases, including: asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sleep apnea, interstitial lung disease, lung cancer, bronchitis, and pneumonia.


Read more or Order





Treating and Managing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

While COPD is a serious progressive lung disease - it’s eminently treatable. Managing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) gets to the heart of your concerns about living with chronic bronchitis or emphysema, providing the latest thinking on the causes of COPD and the full range of your treatment options - with in-depth discussions of medications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and surgical interventions. Written by Dr. Enid R. Neptune, it is a must-have primer for patients and families affected by COPD.

Read more or Order



The Scientific American Health After 50 Newsletter

When you're over 50, it's more important than ever to have access to reliable health information. You won't find a more authoritative source.

Read more or Order





Health Topic Pages