Does emphysema get worse over time?

Emphysema will get progressively worse over time. It is a form of a serious condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which is the third leading cause of death in the United States. On the other hand, if your emphysema is diagnosed before too much damage has been done, you may be able to slow its progress significantly and manage your symptoms. For many people, this will involve quitting smoking and living a healthier lifestyle. Treatment for emphysema may also require medication, and in more severe cases, surgery.

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.