Pronounced: em-fiss-SEE-mahEn Español (Spanish Version)
Emphysema is a long-term disease of the lungs. It is a problem with the tiny air sacs that make up the lungs. These tiny elastic sacs should stretch to fill with air and then get smaller as air moves out of the lungs. Emphysema is caused by the destruction of these air sacs. This makes it difficult to move air in and out of the lungs.
Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Normal Lung vs Emphysemic Lung
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Emphysema is caused by damage to the air sacs of the lung. This damage may be caused by:
- Inhaling toxins or other irritants
- Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency (A1AD)—a genetic defect which can cause emphysema at an early age
Last reviewedFebruary 2013by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.