WebMD
Font Size

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.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKen Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology
Last RevisedNovember 29, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 29, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.