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How does emphysema affect the body?

In emphysema, the walls between the tiny air sacs in the lungs lose their ability to stretch. They eventually become weakened and break. As the lung tissue becomes less elastic, air is trapped inside the air sacs, impairing the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Emphysema causes lung damage. You have airways in your lungs called bronchioles, and at the end of those airways are tiny air sacs called alveoli. Alveoli and the cells that support them usually hold your bronchioles open so air can pass through and oxygen can be distributed into your bloodstream. However, when you have emphysema, your alveoli get damaged and your bronchioles may collapse. To put it simply, emphysema causes your airways to collapse and makes it difficult to breathe. The end result is the body not getting enough oxygen.

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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.