How common is emphysema?

More than 4 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with emphysema. Most of them are smokers. In fact, people who have a deficiency of the protein alpha-1 antitrypsin, which can also result in emphysema, only account for about 2 to 3 percent of the population who suffer from the disease. Emphysema is also more common in men, possibly because men smoke more than women, and in people over the age of 40. Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which kills about 135,000 Americans annually.

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.