What causes emphysema?

Smoking is by far the most common cause of emphysema. Cigarettes are filled with dangerous chemicals that destroy tiny air sacs in your lungs called alveoli. When your alveoli get damaged, your airways, or bronchioles, may collapse, making it incredibly difficult to breathe. Emphysema can also be caused by secondhand smoke and harsh environmental conditions, like air pollution. Much less commonly, emphysema may be the result of a protein deficiency. The specific protein is called alpha-1 antitrypsin, and its job is to prevent a certain enzyme in your body from destroying your alveoli. If you don't have enough of it, you may develop emphysema.

Continue Learning about Emphysema

Is emphysema life threatening?
Jamie McGinnJamie McGinn
Emphysema is a type of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and can be life threatening due ...
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Does emphysema get worse over time?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Emphysema will get progressively worse over time. It is a form of a serious condition called chronic...
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What is emphysema?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Emphysema affects your ability to breathe and is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or...
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Can non-smokers get emphysema?
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Non-smokers can get emphysema, although smoking is the most important risk factor for the developmen...
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