Emphysema News

Emphysema is a disease of the lungs that greatly affects the ability to breathe. Together with chronic bronchitis, it is commonly referred to as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Though there is no cure for emphysema, it can be treated once it develops.

Emphysema is usually present with chronic bronchitis, but it specifically refers to damage to the air sacs in the lungs. These sacs are in charge of the gas exchange that takes place in the lungs. When the sacs are damaged, the exchange is reduced, and it becomes a lot harder to breathe.


By far the main cause of emphysema and COPD in general is cigarette smoking. People who have smoked for long periods of time are most susceptible to the illness. Those who've experienced long-term exposure to chemical fumes, dust, air pollution or other lung irritants are also at risk.


The best approach to emphysema is to prevent it by quitting smoking or avoiding other lung irritants. If you do develop emphysema, the prognosis is better when it's caught in its early stages. It is a progressive lung disease, which means it gets worse over time.

Treatment options include inhaled medications such as bronchodilators to improve breathing as well as vaccines to prevent complications such as the flu. Therapies such as oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation can help people with emphysema improve their breathing. For those with severe COPD, surgery may be an option. Possible procedures include bullectomy, in which the large spaces between damaged air sacs are removed; a lung volume reduction surgery, which removes damaged tissue from the lungs; and a lung transplant.

SOURCES: American Lung Association; U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Date Posted
Article Title
CDC Reveals Top 5 Causes of Death

Good news is that many can be prevented

COPD Deaths Down for Most Americans: CDC

But rates up for black women and middle-aged people

Many Smokers Have COPD Symptoms, Without Diagnosis

It's not clear how many will go on to have the full-blown respiratory ailment, researchers said

Many COPD Patients Have Trouble Finding Care

They can face high out-of-pocket costs, lack access to treatment

Exercise May Extend Lives of People With COPD

Study seems to show a big benefit, and experts say activity can help lungs stay healthy

Study Casts Doubt on Effectiveness of COPD Drug

Research finds acetazolamide may not help patients breathe on their own, but one expert disagrees

Coils in Lungs Might Boost Ability to Exercise With Emphysema

Study finds greater improvement in those treated compared to a placebo

Implanted Lung Valves Show Promise in Some Emphysema Patients

Study finds more success when stricter criteria used in selecting who gets the treatment

VW Emissions Scandal May Cost 60 U.S. Lives, Study Claims

Added air pollution could take a toll, researchers say, but car company refutes the notion

Tai Chi Might Help People With Long-Term Health Conditions

Study shows ancient exercise improves physical ability in those with arthritis, heart failure, emphysema and breast cancer

No Evidence to Support Widespread Screening for COPD: Experts

U.S. panel says efforts should focus on cutting smoking to prevent the deadly respiratory disease

COPD Patients Less Active, Which Can Worsen Outcomes

Study finds a 'vicious circle' where decline in exercise exacerbates the disease

COPD Raises Cardiac Death Risk for Those With Irregular Heartbeat

But the lung condition not tied to raised stroke risk in these patients

Smoking Makes a Comeback in Georgia Bars, Restaurants

State's laws permit designated smoking areas, and more establishments are allowing them, study says

COPD Tied to Raised Risk for Sudden Cardiac Death

Experts weren't surprised, since smoking often contributes to the respiratory disease and heart trouble

More Evidence of Long-Term Illness in 9/11 Responders

EMS workers join police, fire personnel still struggling with health problems, study finds

COPD Takes Big Toll on Employment, Mobility in U.S.

CDC report finds a quarter of people with the illness are unable to work

Healthy Diet May Be Linked to Lower Risk of Lung Disease

Consuming less red meat, soda and alcohol tied to lower COPD threat in study

Nearly Half of Older Adults With Asthma, COPD Still Smoke: CDC

Quitting is 'challenging' and depression often plays a role, one expert says

EPA Issues Tougher Rules on Ozone Emissions

Health experts praised the new limits, but industry advocates said they aren't needed

Cigars Loaded With Harmful Toxins, Study Shows

Even though they may not be inhaled, 'cloud' of smoke could be as dangerous as that from cigarettes

Some Lung Patients Buy Cigarettes Along With Meds at Pharmacies: Study

To end this paradoxical practice, certain drug stores no longer sell tobacco products

Common Respiratory Diseases Tied to Lung Cancer Risk

Chronic bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia linked to risk in study, but not asthma, tuberculosis

FDA Approves New Treatment for People With COPD

Striverdi Respimat is an inhaled spray that works by keeping airways relaxed, agency says

Once-Daily Inhaler Approved for COPD

Striverdi Respimat relaxes lung airways to improve breathing

Annual COPD Costs To Hit $49 Billion by 2020: CDC

Each year, almost 135,000 die from smoking-related chronic lung disease, experts say

Obesity May Raise Risk of COPD

Study found those with largest waist sizes more likely to develop lung disease

Smog Controls Tied to Fewer Lung Disease Deaths in N.C.

Study of 20 years of data suggests federal mandates on cleaner air had positive impact on health

Heat Waves Could Worsen COPD Symptoms, Study Suggests

Finding is troubling given predictions of rising temperatures due to climate change

Climate Change Will Make Breathing in Summer Harder: Study

As weather warms, some areas in U.S. will have many high ozone days

Smoke-Free Laws May Help Prevent COPD Hospitalizations

Kentucky patients 22 percent less likely to need to be admitted in counties with stricter laws, study finds

Coordinated Care Helps Elderly With Chronic Diseases

Odds of complications, hospital admissions lower when patients see fewer doctors, says study

2-Mile Daily Walk Might Help Fight COPD

Study found patients who were more active had fewer hospitalizations from lung condition

Anoro Ellipta Approved for COPD

Drug relaxes lung airways

Blood Tests May Predict COPD Flare-Ups

Signs of chronic inflammation in the blood linked to faster deterioration of lung function

Long-Term Use of Antibiotic May Help Those With COPD

Taking azithromycin for a year cut down on re-hospitalizations for disease flare-ups, study found

Certain COPD Meds Might Raise Heart Risks, Study Says

But benefits of 'bronchodilators' tend to outweigh risks, specialist adds

Breo Ellipta Approved for COPD

Respiratory disease is the third-leading cause of death in U.S.

Women's Smoking Deaths at All-Time High in U.S.

Starting earlier, smoking more account for increase, expert says

Winter Holds Many Hazards for Seniors, Expert Warns

Preparation, caution can help keep elderly safe from injuries and illness related to season

15 Million in U.S. Have COPD, a Lung Disease

Prevalence of the chronic condition is highest in Kentucky, CDC says

For People With Lung Disease, Colds Are Worse With School Kids Around

Study found sore throat, runny nose, cough were all more likely

Health Tip: Help Keep COPD in Check

Visit your doctor often

Human Airways' 'Brush' Mechanism Gives Clues to Lung Diseases

Researchers say proper mucus clearance may depend on how tiny hair-like cilia operate

Tudorza Pressair Approved for COPD

Inhaler treats narrowed lung airways

Fatigue in COPD Patients Often Precedes Hospitalization: Study

Low energy is common in people with the respiratory condition

COPD Can Put a Damper on Sex Life

Breathlessness also affects mood and well-being, small study says

'Self-Managing' COPD Might Pose Risks, Study Suggests

People getting comprehensive education had higher death risk, researchers found