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Lung disease covers a group of conditions (including chronic bronchitis and emphysema) that damage the lungs, blocking the passage of air in and out, and making it difficult to breathe. It decreases the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen and remove carbon dioxide when we breathe. As the disease gets worse, small airways within the walls of the lungs become less elastic. Finally, the airways collapse, and become clogged with mucus. Although air continues to reach the lungs when you breathe in, it becomes trapped, making it difficult and uncomfortable to breathe out. FACT: Up to three million people in the UK are estimated to have lung disease at any one time. Who gets lung disease? Are you at risk? It’s simple. If you smoke, you’re at risk. Smoking is the major cause of lung disease, and four out of five cases are smoking related. It used to be older men who worked down the mines that suffered from lung disease. Nowadays it’s rare for people who have never smoked to suffer from the condition. Other causes of lung disease can include passive smoking, air pollution or childhood lung problems that were not treated properly at the time.