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Last Updated on April 10, 2023


Emphysema is a lung condition that results in shortness of breath. It damages the air sacs of the lungs called alveoli. There are various types of emphysema, of which centrilobular emphysema is the most common. It is also known as centriacinar emphysema. It is a chronic lung condition that damages the upper lobes of the respiratory passages. This damage results in obstruction of airflow from the lungs, making it hard to breathe. This condition is common in people who are avid smokers and mainly affects people of age 50 years and above.

The purpose of this blog is to discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of centrilobular emphysema. Moreover, the blog will also discuss the stages, and how fast centrilobular emphysema progresses.

What Causes Centrilobular Emphysema?

Smoking is the culprit. Those who smoke are at a high risk of developing centrilobular emphysema over time. Other factors include:

  • Long-term exposure to pollutants
  • Airborne irritants
  • Chemicals and fumes
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Biomass fuels 

In rare cases, emphysema is caused by a hereditary lack of a protein that protects the lungs’ elastic components. The protein is called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency emphysema.

What Are The Symptoms To Look For?

Centrilobular emphysema symptoms include:

  • Constriction in the chest caused by wheezing
  • Shortness of breath when carrying out daily tasks (dyspnea)
  • Chronic coughing that produces excessive mucus, also known as sputum or phlegm fatigue
  • Lips and fingernail beds turn blue

When the illness worsens, these symptoms may exacerbate. Lung function will decline from greater than 80% in stage 1 to less than 30% in advanced stages of centrilobular emphysema. In addition, chronic bronchitis is frequently associated with centrilobular emphysema.

Read: COPD vs Asthma: What’s The Difference?

Stages of Emphysema

There are 4 stages of emphysema, as established by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. Generally, the stages are based on airflow, symptoms, and exacerbations. Based on the forced expiratory rate, the stages are:

First Stage: FEV1 is around 80% of normal

Second Stage: FEV1 is 50-80%of  normal

Third Stage: FEV1 is 30-50% of normal

Fourth Stage: FEV1 is less than 30% of normal

Risk Factors For Centrilobular Emphysema

The following factors enhance your chances of developing emphysema:

  • Smoking: Cigarette smokers are at a higher risk of developing emphysema, although cigar and pipe users are at equal risk. The risk increases with the number of years and amount of tobacco smoked for all types of smokers.
  • Age: Although the lung damage caused by emphysema develops slowly, most patients with tobacco-related emphysema show symptoms between the ages of 40 and 60.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure: Secondhand smoke is smoke that you mistakenly inhale from someone else’s cigarette, pipe, or cigar. It is also called passive or environmental tobacco smoke. Being exposed to secondhand smoke raises your risk of developing emphysema.
  • Exposure to fumes or dust during work: A person is more prone to getting emphysema if they breathe fumes from certain chemicals or dust from grain, cotton, wood, or mining materials. This risk is intensified if they smoke.
  • Pollution from both indoor and outdoor sources: Breathing indoor pollutants, such as heating fuel fumes, as well as outside pollutants, such as car emissions, increases the risk of emphysema.

How Is Centrilobular Emphysema Diagnosed?

An experienced doctor or a pulmonologist with centrilobular emphysema after assessing your smoking and job histories, based on which he will recommend some tests.

  • Imaging: A chest X-ray may be ordered by your doctor to see whether your lungs are enlarged or if you’ve experienced any other physical symptoms. A CT scan can also detect physical abnormalities linked with COPD, such as enlarged arteries.
  • Oxygen concentrations: A noninvasive pulse oximetry test may be performed by your doctor to measure the oxygen levels in your blood. They will do this by placing a probe, which is a clip-like device, on the finger or ear lobe. The probe utilizes light to assess the amount of oxygen in the blood. An arterial blood gas (ABG) test may be required in various instances. A little blood sample is required for an AGB. An artery in the wrist, arm, or groin may be used to draw this blood.
  • Lung Function: Pulmonary function tests are another name for lung function tests. These tests can tell how well your lungs are functioning. Spirometry and plethysmography are two methods for measuring lung function.

Also read: Is COPD Contagious?

Line Of Treatment For Centrilobular Emphysema

The treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms and how well the lungs are functioning.

Some of the available treatment options for centrilobular emphysema include:

  • Beta Agonists: Inhaled beta-agonists work well for emphysema and allow a person to breathe better. They cause bronchodilation resulting in easy passage of air in and out of the lungs.
  • Anti Cholinergic: These are the choice of bronchodilators for managing emphysema.
  • Steroids: They help in reducing inflammation of the lungs.

Lifestyle Modification for Centrilobular Emphysema

Individuals with emphysema can take steps to manage their symptoms, enhance their quality of life, and reduce the disease’s progression. The sooner these steps are taken, the more beneficial they may be. Among the things to attempt are:

  • Smoking cessation or avoidance
  • Avoid polluted areas
  • Follow or form an exercise regimen
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Drink plenty of water to remove mucus and keep the airways open

A Word From Revive

Revive Research Institute has been conducting multiple clinical trials on lung health including COPD which entails emphysema and bronchitis. The goal is to make people take charge of their health by understanding the management of the conditions.


Although it is not possible to repair the current damage, treatment can help delay the advancement of the condition and allow a person to utilize their remaining lung capacity more efficiently. To slow down the progression of the disease, it is important to take notice of the symptoms and consult a physician right away to get the right treatment plan.

The good part is that centrilobular emphysema or any type of emphysema is absolutely preventable. The condition is typically caused by external factors that involve smoking, dust, and fumes that are under your control and can be managed.

Dr. Zara Khan

Dr. Zara is a Dentist with expert knowledge in Recruitment tactics. Coupled with her insight into Marketing and her love for understanding medical conditions, she is an integral addition to Revival’s Patient Recruitment Department. She is currently pursuing her MBA in Health and Hospital Management.

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Southfield, MI

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