Emphysema

Emphysema is a long-term (chronic), irreversible lung disease that occurs when the tiny air sacs in the lungs are damaged, usually as a result of long-term smoking. It causes difficulty breathing and shortness of breath that gets worse over time.

Emphysema is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

A rare type of emphysema is caused by the lack of a substance in the lungs called alpha1-antitrypsin. This type of emphysema is usually inherited.

Last Updated: May 8, 2008

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS & Cynthia Tank

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & Ken Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology

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