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Quitting smoking can slow the worsening of emphysema symptoms.

Quitting smoking can slow the worsening of emphysema symptoms.
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What causes emphysema?

Most people with emphysema smoke or have smoked in the past.

A very small proportion of people get emphysema because they inherited a faulty gene that normally helps to keep the air sacs of the lungs healthy.

Other causes of emphysema and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) include:

  • passive smoking, particularly during infancy
  • exposure to industrial dust and chemicals
  • exposure to air pollutants.

Over time, the lung tissue becomes stiff and less effective at taking oxygen into the body.

Smoking makes emphysema worse - whatever the cause.

Last reviewed: November 2016

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