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When lung illness is so severe that the elastic fibers of the lungs break down and the chest can no longer normally expand and contract, the patient has emphysema.


The causes of emphysema are smoking, exposure to air pollution, and exposure to dust or toxins.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnosis is made by clinical examination, history evaluation, and chest X-ray as well as pulmonary function testing to assess lung function.

Treatment of emphysema seeks to slow development of the disease as well as to relieve symptoms.  It is important to improve the patient’s general quality of life with physical therapy and planned exercise therapy to maintain a life that is as physically active as possible.