Information for the public

The condition

The condition

Emphysema is one of a group of diseases known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD). It is a long‑term lung condition in which the small air sacs inside the lung (called alveoli) become damaged. This makes it difficult for the person to get enough oxygen. People with emphysema may have a chronic cough and can be short of breath during exercise or even at rest. They can also feel tired and may have lost weight.

Treatment for emphysema includes advice about stopping smoking, exercise and breathing retraining, and medication. Sometimes oxygen can help. Surgery to reduce the volume of the lungs, or a lung transplant, may be needed if the emphysema is severe.

NICE has looked at using insertion of endobronchial nitinol coils to improve lung function in emphysema as another treatment option.

NHS Choices ( may be a good place to find out more.

  • Information Standard