Some lung damage, such as inflammation of the airway caused by smoking, can be reversed by the cessation of smoking, reports Time magazine. Most damage caused by emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic bronchitis are permanent.
Regardless of age, inflammation of the airways caused by smoking is greatly reduced after a person quits, reports Time. A person's chance of developing lung cancer is greatly decreased after he stops smoking, yet damage caused by some diseases may never be reversed. Emphysema, COPD and chronic bronchitis cause scarring of the lung tissue, which is permanent. A heavy smoker who quits by the age of 30 can greatly reduce lung damage but is likely to suffer some lung function impairment and reduced exercise capacity for the remainder of his life.
Asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia may result in permanent lung damage if not treated early, explains the Office on Women's Health. A person with symptoms that include trouble breathing, lack of energy, or persistent cough and pain while inhaling or exhaling should seek treatment as soon as possible. For bronchitis and pneumonia, treatment lasts until the symptoms have subsided. For asthma sufferers, treatment typically involves short-term medication for immediate relief and long-term medication to prevent symptoms from arising.
Secondhand smoke, pollution, radon and asbestos are linked to lung disease. Avoiding exposure is imperative to maintaining healthy lungs. Even if a person suffers from lung damage, adopting a healthy lifestyle can prevent further damage from occurring, states the Office on Women's Health.