Emphysema is a form of chronic (long-term) lung disease. People with emphysema have difficulty breathing from a limitation in blowing air out. The main symptom of emphysema is shortness of breath, which usually begins gradually. You may start avoiding activities that cause you to be short of breath, so the symptom doesn't become a problem until it starts interfering with daily tasks. Emphysema eventually causes shortness of breath even while you're at rest. The main cause of emphysema is long-term exposure to airborne irritants, including: Tobacco smoke, Marijuana smoke, Air pollution, Manufacturing fumes Treatments and drugs Medications Depending upon the severity of your symptoms, your doctor might suggest: Bronchodilators, Inhaled steroids, Antibiotics Therapy:Pulmonary rehabilitation, Nutrition therapy, Supplemental oxygen Surgery: Depending on the severity of your emphysema, your doctor may suggest one or more different types of surgery, including:Lung volume reduction surgery, Lung transplant.