Can non-smokers get emphysema?


Non-smokers can get emphysema, although smoking is the most important risk factor for the development of emphysema. Other exposures and medical issues can also lead to emphysema. Passive smoke exposure, or second-hand smoke, as well as exposure to biomass fuel, fumes, and chemical dusts can cause emphysema. Additionally there is a condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which causes emphysema. In this condition the person may have an insufficient amount of, lack of, or dysfunction of alpha-1 antitrypsin, an enzyme that is vitally important to lung health.


Continue Learning about Emphysema


Emphysema is difficulty breathing due to air trapped in the lung, resulting in reduced lung capacity. Smoking is usually the cause, as it damages the linings of the air sacs in the lungs making them close. This leads to areas of t...

rapped air in your lungs. Other causes may include coal dust and other pollutants. Your lungs enlarge to compensate, but there are limits to this. Treatment may be medical and include oxygen support, medication and respiratory therapy. Of course stopping smoking is always recommended. Surgical treatment by cutting out damaged portions of the lungs and reducing lung volume is also effective.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.