Pulmonary emphysema is the destruction of the parenchyma, that is, the alveolar walls. Most closely linked to smoking, emphysema is a disease that decreases a person’s ability to breathe. It is one of the diseases included under the term chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Emphysema limits patients’ normal daily functioning, causing chronic fatigue that can be triggered by even the least strenuous activities, such as washing one’s face, tying shoes, etc.
The alveolar-wall destruction seen in patients with emphysema makes the lungs lose their elasticity, which leads to air becoming trapped in the lungs. This is called hyperinflation, or air trapping, and causes worsened lung function due to changes to normal breathing.