What is Emphysema? It is a chronic disease where the air sacs or alveoli became damaged and lose their elasticity so that the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is limited. The body requires the oxygen to survive.

Smoking damages this lung tissue. The duration of a smokers' habit directly affects the damage caused by smoking, not only to the lungs but also to other organs. This damage from cigarette smoking may become irreversible.

It is a long-term, progressive disease of the lungs which causes a person to have shortness of breath due to the over inflation of the alveoli or the air sacs inside the lung. In people with emphysema, the lung tissues that are involved in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide are destroyed.

Smoking is in fact the major cause for someone developing emphysema; sadly it is also the most preventable cause. Emphysema is triggered by smoking in two ways; One, it destroys lung tissue; secondly it causes inflammation and irritation of the airways. Both of these result in obstruction of airflow within the lungs. Cigarette smoking is a risk factor for developing emphysema; this fact is of such importance it can not be amplified enough and it can develop at any age.

Lung tissue is destroyed by smoking cigarettes in many different ways. Firstly, the cells in ones airway that are responsible for clearing mucus and other secretaries are directly affected by cigarettes. The sweeping action of tiny hairs called cilia lining the airways are on occasion disturbed. Long-term smoking leads to more damage of the cilia, they could also disappear from the cells lining the air passages. This sweeping motion of the cilia is important, without it occurring consistently mucous secretions that can not be cleared from the lower respiratory tract. Now that the mucous is unable to clear itself, smoke then causes mucous secretion to be increased. This is a severe situation where infection is most likely going to happen, because of the buildup of bacteria and other organisms with a rich source of food.

Infection is preceded and fosted by the immune cells within the lungs and they are also affected by cigarettes. These cells can not fight bacteria as effectively or clear the lungs of particles in cigarettes, such as tar. This is a perfect combination for lung infections small and deadly. The Immune system is therefore always working and attacking bacteria, this releases destructive enzymes from the immune cells and causes inflammation.

Chronic exposure to cigarette smoke leads to the slow destruction of lung function. Enzymes released during this persistent inflammation leads to the loss of proteins responsible for keeping the lungs elastic. Also, the tissues separating the air cells (alveoli) from one another are also destroyed.

Emphysema is caused in many different ways, such as air pollution and breathing hazardous chemicals consistently. However smoking is still the most common and deadly cause of emphysema. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, stopping today could prevent this deadly disease from attacking you or more importantly from increasing.