Emphysema | American Lung Association

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Emphysema

Emphysema is one of the diseases that comprises COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Emphysema involves gradual damage of lung tissue, specifically thinning and destruction of the alveoli or air sacs.

Key Facts

  • Air sacs are destroyed in emphysema, making it progressively difficult to breathe.
  • Emphysema is usually accompanied by chronic bronchitis, with almost-daily or daily cough and phlegm.
  • Cigarette smoking is the major cause of emphysema.
  • People with emphysema experience shortness of breath with activities
  • It is not curable, but there are treatments that can help you manage the disease

Visit our COPD section to learn more »

This content was developed in partnership with the CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians.

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