What is emphysema?

Emphysema is a component of COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Emphysema is one of a group of lung diseases that make it hard to breathe. Emphysema harms lung tissue over time. Smoking is usually the cause of emphysema. Air pollution and chemical fumes also can cause emphysema.

Chronic Bronchitis May Be Sign of Emphysema

People with emphysema also may have chronic bronchitis, which is the second component of COPD and causes a lot of coughing and mucous.Call your primary care doctor or family healthcare provider if you or a loved one has symptoms. Your doctor may refer you to a pulmonologist, or lung specialist, for evaluation. The most common symptoms of emphysema are:

  • Feeling out of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Cough than won’t go away
  • Chest tightness

Tests to Check for Emphysema

The following tests are done to diagnose COPD, including emphysema:

  • Lung function tests, including pulmonary function test
  • Chest X-ray
  • CT scan
  • Blood tests
  • Steps to Manage Emphysema Symptoms

    Emphysema is a long-term condition that cannot be cured. But emphysema symptoms can get better with treatment. Treatment may include:

    • Quitting smoking

    • Pulmonary rehabilitation (physical therapy and exercise)

    • Rescue inhalers that you breathe in

    • Steroids and other medicine your doctor prescribes

    • Oxygen therapy

    • Lung surgery or lung transplant

    Pulmonary rehabilitation for emphysema

    Education, exercise and counseling are part of pulmonary rehabilitation for emphysema and other long-term respiratory conditions.

    Therapists help people with exercise. Patients can improve breathing. Daily activities are easier to do. Our pulmonary rehabilitation exercise and education programs help your overall health.