Emphysema gradually damages the air sacs (alveoli) in your lungs, making you progressively more short of breath. Emphysema is one of several diseases known collectively as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smoking is the leading cause of emphysema. Your lungs' alveoli are clustered like bunches of grapes. In emphysema, the inner walls of the air sacs weaken and eventually rupture creating one larger air space instead of many small ones. This reduces the surface area of the lungs and, in turn, the amount of oxygen that reaches your bloodstream. When you exhale, the damaged alveoli don't work properly and old air becomes trapped, leaving no room for fresh, oxygen-rich air to enter.
Try not to panic if you start to have a flare-up. Quick treatment at home may help you manage serious breathing problems. Globally, as of 2010, COPD affected approximately 329 million people (4.8% of the population). The disease affects men and women almost equally, as there has been increased tobacco use among women in the developed world. The increase in the developing world between 1970 and the 2000s is believed to be related to increasing rates of smoking in this region, an increasing population and an aging population due to less death?s from other causes such as infectious diseases. Some developed countries have seen increased rates, some have remained stable and some have seen a decrease in COPD prevalence. The global numbers are expected to continue increasing as risk factors remain common and the population continues to get older. Emphysema can't be cured, but treatments can help relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.