What increases my risk for emphysema?

Nisarg Changawala, MD
Pulmonary Disease
Smoking is the leading risk factor in developing emphysema. Nisarg Changawala, MD from Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center, discusses the likelihood of getting emphysema by non-smokers in this video.

The number one risk factor in developing emphysema is smoking. You can greatly reduce your risk of developing the disease if you quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. If you are a smoker, your risk increases with age. The older you are and the longer you've smoked, the more likely you are to develop emphysema. Smokers who are infected with HIV are at a higher risk as well. The environment you live and work in may also increase your risk for emphysema. If you have a job that requires exposure to dangerous airborne chemicals, you have a higher chance of developing the disease. The same can be said for those who live in an area with high amounts of air pollution. Conditions that damage connective tissue, such as Marfan syndrome, may increase your risk as well.

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.