If you have emphysema, the muscles that help you breathe have to work harder. They also tire out sooner. The result? You feel short of breath after the slightest activity. As the disease gets worse, you may feel breathless even when you’re sitting still.
In addition to shortness of breath, you may also experience:
As your emphysema gets worse, you may lose your appetite. You might also feel depressed, have poor sexual function, or find that you don’t sleep as well as you used to.
Symptoms tend to develop slowly and over time. Smokers who have the disease typically first develop them between ages 45 and 60. As we get older, the lungs slowly lose function -- even among nonsmokers. If you have emphysema and continue to smoke, you'll lose lung function faster. If you quit, you may be able to slow the process.