However, over time, almost all people with emphysema will develop shortness of breath. At first, this may be noticed only during strenuous activities, such as climbing several flights of stairs or playing sports. As time goes on, the shortness of breath may occur with daily activities, such as housework or walking short distances. Eventually, the person may be short of breath for much of the day, even while at rest or sleeping. At its worst, emphysema can cause "air hunger." This is the constant feeling of being unable to catch one's breath.
Signs of emphysema include the following:
Not everyone with emphysema requires the large mobile tank often associated with oxygen supplementation. A much lighter and more portable device called a concentrator can extract oxygen from the air and convert it for use. Older versions of these devices initially required a power outlet to operate, but newer versions operate on battery power, making them more viable for everyday use. However, the battery-operated version isn’t recommended for use during sleep, as the device may have problems recognizing when a sleeping user is inhaling.