Pulmonary emphysema is a condition in which the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs are enlarged and damaged, which reduces the surface area for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Pulmonary emphysema is one of the two - very different - forms of emphysema in this section. The other form of emphysema included here is surgical emphysema.
Normal healthy lung tissue contains aveolar sacs which normally expand and contract but may over-expand.
Over-expansion of aveloar sacs leads to:
- Loss of elasticity
- Loss of surface area
- Loss of lung capacity
- Insufficient take-up of oxygen
Pulmonary emphysema is particularly common in men in Britain and is associated with chronic bronchitis, smoking, and advancing age.
Severe emphysema causes breathlessness/severe breathing difficulty, which is made worse by infections.
See also a list of diseases and disorders of the respiratory system (info all on one page).