ZocdocAnswersDoes smoking cause emphysema?

Question

Does smoking cause emphysema?

I am a 40 year old smoker. I do not want to get emphysema.

Answer

Yes, smoking does cause emphysema, and virtually all people with emphysema get it because they smoke, although their are rarer cases caused by genetic conditions and by other environmental exposures. Emphysema is a condition in which the lung tissue starts to break down from the chronic inflammation caused by the particles that accumulate in the lungs from smoking. This leads to dilated areas of lung that do not work very efficiently and obstruction to the movement of air out of those parts of the lungs. Emphysema is a chronic, degenerative condition which leads to gradual deterioration in functioning, usually eventually leading to dependence on oxygen therapy, multiple hospitalizations, and eventual death. Some of the symptoms of emphysema can be controlled, but the condition cannot be cured. Because of this it is absolutely essential that you stop smoking. Not smoking is the absolute best thing you can do to prevent emphysema and other lung problems. Additionally, smoking greatly raises your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other serious and potentially fatal medical conditions. If you would like help quitting smoking, you should talk to your primary care doctor. There are multiple medications and other therapies that can help you be more successful at quitting.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.