Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Quitting smoking can slow the worsening of emphysema symptoms.

Quitting smoking can slow the worsening of emphysema symptoms.
beginning of content


Emphysema is a condition that causes shortness of breath and cough. The major cause of emphysema is smoking - people who smoke and have emphysema should quit. However, some people who have never smoked get emphysema because of a genetic condition.

In people who have emphysema, the air sacs, or alveoli, of the lungs are damaged. This causes the small airways to collapse when air is breathed out, which makes it hard for air to flow into the lungs and even harder for it to flow out.

Smoking is the main cause of emphysema, so quitting smoking is the most important step in easing the symptoms. Help is available via Quitline on 13 78 48.

The condition is one of several which grouped together are known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is one of the most common causes of death in Australia.

Your doctor can diagnose emphysema by talking to you and examining you. They are likely to also ask for blood tests, chest x-rays and lung function tests.

There are many treatments available, including medicines, lung exercises and, for some people, surgery. It is also wise to avoid pollution and other people’s smoke.

Quitting smoking is the only treatment known to slow the worsening of emphysema symptoms.

Are you a carer or helping someone out?

Carers are everyday people who provide unpaid and ongoing care and support to someone they know who has disability, mental illness, drug or alcohol dependancy, a chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail.

Support for carers

Learn more about the practical, financial and emotional support and services available to carers. For carers' services in your state or territory visit Carers Australia.

Last reviewed: November 2016

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 138 results


Emphysema Category: Lung and Airway Health Topic: Emphysema Send by email View as PDF Send by post Emphysema is a condition where there is an over-inflation of structures in the lungs known as alveoli or air sacs

Read more on Queensland Health website

Emphysema | Better Health Channel

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Alpha-1 antitrypsin - Lab Tests Online AU

To help diagnose the cause of early onset emphysema and/or liver disease. To establish the risk of developing alpha-1 antitrypsin-related emphysema and/or liver disease and the likelihood that children might inherit the risk

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Health Impacts of Wood Smoke

Wood smoke contains fine particles which are breathed into the lungs. They irritate the bronchial tubes and affect those with pre-existing lung disease, especially asthma, chronic bronchitis & emphysema.

Read more on Lung Foundation Australia website

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: COPD -

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term (chronic) condition that affects the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

Read more on myDr website

Lung conditions - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) | Better Health Channel

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Bicarbonate - Lab Tests Online AU

Usually as part of a renal profile (collection of tests which help investigate the kidney) to screen for an electrolyte or acid-base imbalance in conditions known to cause such disturbances, or to monitor a known imbalance

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Physiotherapy | The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Lung Function Tests

Lung function tests provide an easy way of measuring the function of the lungs without the need to physically examine the lungs themselves.

Read more on Lung Foundation Australia website

Smoking and anaesthesia - ANZCA

Read more on ANZCA – Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo