This is a chronic and progressive disease of your lungs. It involves the tiny air sacs, called "alveoli", at the ends of the air passages in your lungs. In healthy lungs, these sacs inflate and deflate as you breathe. But with emphysema, the walls of these sacs break down. The sacs begin to rupture. This interferes with your lungs' ability to cycle air properly.


Most cases of emphysema are caused by smoking. But it can also be caused by exposure to air pollution or harmful fumes. And in rare cases it can be caused by a genetic defect.


Emphysema causes shortness of breath. This may develop gradually. As the disease progresses, you may have shortness of breath even when you are resting. This can interfere with your daily activities. You may feel as though you can't get enough air into your lungs. You may develop a chronic cough. You may wheeze. And you may feel constant fatigue.


Treatment options include medications and rehabilitation exercises. You may benefit from supplemental oxygen and from a healthier lifestyle. If these are not helpful, you may benefit from surgery to modify your lungs. A lung transplant procedure may also be an option. Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for your needs.