What is Emphysema?

The causes of emphysema include: Smoking. Cigarette smoke is by far the most common cause of emphysema. There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke. These chemical irritants slowly destroy the small peripheral airways, the elastic air sacs and their supporting elastic fibers.; Protein deficiency. Approximately 1 to 2 percent of people with emphysema have an inherited deficiency of a protein called AAt, which protects the elastic structures in the lungs. Without this protein, enzymes can cause progressive lung damage, eventually resulting in emphysema. If you're a smoker with a lack of AAt, emphysema can begin in your 30s and 40s. The progression and severity...

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Also known as copd, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, bronchitis - chronic, chronic obstructive lung disease, chronic obstructive airways disease, chronic obstructive airway disease
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Emphysema information from trusted sources:


Emphysema is a long-term, progressive disease of the lung that primarily causes shortness of breath. In people with emphysema, the lung tissues necessary to support the physical shape and function of the lung are destroyed. It is included in a group of diseases called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD (pulmonary refers to the lungs). Emphysema is called an obstructive lung disease because the destruction of lung tissue around smaller airways, called bronchioles, makes these airways unable to hold their shape properly when you exhale. This group of diseases ranks as the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Unlike heart disease and other more common causes of death, the death rate for COPD appears to be rising.


Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) involving damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. As a result, your body does not get the oxygen it needs. Emphysema makes it hard to catch your breath. You may also have a chronic cough and have trouble breathing during exercise. The most common cause is cigarette smoking. If you smoke, quitting can help prevent you from getting the disease. If you already have emphysema, not smoking might keep it from getting worse. Treatment is based on whether your symptoms are mild, moderate or severe. Treatments include inhalers, oxygen, medications and sometimes surgery to relieve symptoms and prevent complications.

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Emphysema is a factor in the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition that limits the flow of air when you breathe out. Emphysema occurs when the air sacs at the ends of your smallest air passages (bronchioles) are gradually destroyed. Smoking is the leading cause of emphysema.

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease. The main symptom of COPD is an inability to breathe in and out properly. This is also referred to as airflow obstruction.

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Emphysema (em-fi-SEE-mah) is a long-term disease of the lungs. Emphysema is one of a group of lung diseases called COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Emphysema causes damage to the alveoli (al-VEE-oh-lie) that cannot be reversed (cured). The alveoli are the tiny air sacs of the lungs where oxygen is put into the bloodstream. With emphysema, your lungs become less able to take in oxygen (good air) and get rid of carbon dioxide (deye-OKS-eyed). Carbon dioxide is an invisible gas that your body gives off as a waste product.

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Emphysema - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Emphysema is a long-term, progressive disease of the lungs that primarily causes shortness of breath. In people with emphysema, the tissues necessary to ...

Read more on en.wikipedia.org

Emphysema Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prognosis ...

Mar 11, 2011 ... Emphysema is a progressive disease that usually manifests itself in patients after 50 years of age. Emphysema is a subtype of chronic ...

Read more on www.medicinenet.com

Emphysema: eMedicine Pulmonology

Oct 21, 2010 ... Overview: Emphysema is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Emphysema is defined pathologically as an abnormal permanent ...

Read more on emedicine.medscape.com

Emphysema Causes: Smoking, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, and More

Aug 24, 2009 ... Emphysema is a disease of the lungs that can have a negative impact on breathing. WebMD explains what happens and what causes it.

Read more on www.webmd.com

What Is Emphysema? | ehealthMD

Emphysema is a lung disease that reduces the ability of the lungs to expel air, a process which depends upon the natural rubber-band-like quality or elastic ...

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Emphysema can increase the severity of other chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart failure. If you have emphysema, air pollution or a respiratory infection can lead to an acute COPD exacerbation, with extreme shortness of breath and dangerously low oxygen levels. You may need admission to an intensive care unit and temporary support from an artificial breathing machine (ventilator) until the infection clears.

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Coping and support
These suggestions may help you cope with emphysema: Express your feelings. Your emphysema may limit some of your activities and affect your family's plans and routines in ways you can't always anticipate. If you and your family can talk openly about each other's needs, you'll be better able to meet the challenges of living with this disease. Be alert to changes in your mood and your relations with others, and don't be afraid to seek counseling.; Consider a support group. You may also want to consider joining a support group for people with emphysema. Although support groups aren't for everyone, they can be a good source of information about new treatments and coping strategies. And it can...

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If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) you will often be short of breath, have a persistent cough, and a build-up of mucus and phlegm in your throat.

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Lifestyle and home remedies
Some simple exercises can improve your breathing if you have emphysema or another chronic lung disorder. They help you control the emptying of your lungs by using your abdominal muscles. Do them two to four times daily.

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Preparing for your appointment
Your first appointment to check for emphysema may be with your primary doctor or with a specialist in lung diseases called a pulmonologist. Be prepared to answer questions regarding: Whether you smoke and if so, how many packs a day; Your contact with other irritants, such as chemical fumes, industrial dust or secondhand smoke; Whether you have a chronic cough, and how long you've had it; Whether you've been wheezing or having trouble breathing in cold air; Your family history of COPD

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Most cases of emphysema are preventable. To prevent emphysema: Don't smoke. If you do smoke, seek help to quit as soon as possible.; Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.; Wear a mask to protect your lungs if you work with chemical fumes or dust.; Increase your physical activity or exercise regularly if you've smoked in the past.

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Risk factors
Risk factors for emphysema include: Smoking. Emphysema is most likely to develop in cigarette smokers, but cigar and pipe smokers also are susceptible, and the risk for all types of smokers increases with the number of years and amount of tobacco smoked.; Age. Although the lung damage that occurs in emphysema develops gradually, most people with tobacco-related emphysema begin to experience symptoms of the disease between the ages of 40 and 60.; Exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke, also known as passive or environmental tobacco smoke, is smoke that you inadvertently inhale from someone else's cigarette, pipe or cigar. Being around secondhand smoke increases your risk of emphysema.;...

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If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and you are planning to fly, go to your GP for a fitness-to-fly assessment. This involves measuring your oxygen levels and checking your spirometry (breathing test) results (see the Diagnosis section).

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Emphysema symptoms are mild to begin with but steadily get worse as the disease progresses. The main emphysema symptoms are: Shortness of breath; Wheezing; Chest tightness; Reduced capacity for physical activity; Chronic coughing, which could also indicate chronic bronchitis; Loss of appetite and weight; Fatigue

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There is no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Treatment is mainly used to relieve any symptoms that you have.

Read more on www.nhs.uk