Emphysema is a long-term lung disease that primarily causes shortness of breath.It is caused due to smoking; exposure to toxic chemicals etc., besides these, the other major known cause of emphysema is alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency may also add to the causes of Emphysema. People with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency develop at a younger age. It is characterized by loss of elasticity of the lung tissue; the tissue surrounding the alveoli and the capillaries feeding the alveoli are destroyed. Small airways collapse during expiration leading to an obstructive form of lung disease.

The symptoms include shortness of breath on exertion over-inflation of the alveoli, cough, hyperventilation and an expanded chest. Clubbing of the fingers is also seen in severe cases.  As smoking is the main cause of this, smoking cessation may return lung function from this rapid deterioration to its normal rate after smoking is stopped. Bronchodilating medications, Steroid medications, antibiotics are used for treating.Pulmonary function testing (PFTs) helps to estimate the stage or severity .  The air trapped in air spaces makes it difficult for people with emphysema to blow out forcefully. The more air that is trapped, the worse lung function becomes.  GOLD Emphysema Staging System and BODE Emphysema Staging System may also serve the purpose.

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