About Emphysema

Emphysema is a debilitating chronic disease that leads to shortness of breath and reduced quality of life. Globally, over 30 million patients have been diagnosed with this disease. 

With emphysema, air sacs (called alveoli) deteriorate and lose elasticity

  • Oxygen exchange is reduced
  • Air gets trapped in the alveoli, causing the diseased lung region to expand
Image of a healthy Lung

Healthy Lung

Image of a emphysema Lung

Lung with Emphysema


The diseased region compresses the healthier region, and breathing becomes increasingly more difficult.

Image of healthy Lobes of Lung

Healthy Lung

Image of emphysema Lobes of Lung

Lung with Emphysema

The most common cause of emphysema is smoking although genetic, occupational, and environmental causes contribute to 10% of cases.1

1 Sciurba F et al. A randomized study of endobronchial valves for advanced emphysema. N Eng J Med 2010;363:1233-44

The primary symptom of emphysema is shortness of breath. Routine activities, such as walking or even eating, may cause fatigue. If you experience these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

This disease cannot be cured, however, treatment may help reduce symptoms, improve quality of life, and slow progression of the disease.  Your doctor can help you determine which treatment may be best for you.

Emphysema Treatment Options:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Medication
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Endoscopic lung volume reduction (e.g. Zephyr Endobronchial Valve)
  • Surgical lung volume reduction
  • Lung transplant