Symptoms | Causes | Risk factors | Complications | Preparing for your appointment | Tests and Diagnosis | Treatment and drugs | Lifestyle and home remedies | Other Resources
COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is a serious and progressive lung disease that can make it difficult to breathe and get enough oxygen into the body.
Normally, air flows into the lungs via the nose, mouth, and air tubes (airways) leading to the lungs. In the lungs, oxygen (O2) from the air passes through air sacs and into blood vessels, which carry the oxygen to all parts of the body. At the same time, carbon dioxide (CO2) passes out of the blood vessels into the air sacs and is blown out of the lungs when you exhale.
COPD is made up of two diseases that obstruct, or block, the normal flow of air and oxygen. Emphysema damages the airways and air sacs, making it difficult for the body to effectively exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by swollen and inflamed airways that produce large amounts of mucus. The inflammation and mucus narrow the airways, making it difficult for air and oxygen to flow freely through the body.
Many people with COPD have a combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Some also have asthma-like symptoms or reactive airway disease.
COPD is a progressive disease, which means that it can get worse over time. But proper treatment can control the disease and its symptoms, making it easier for you to breathe and enjoy life. You can work with your health-care provider to learn ways to improve your breathing and fitness and prevent quick and serious worsening of your disease. It IS possible to live well with COPD.
Patient education resources supported in part by grants from Forest Laboratories, Inc., Pfizer, Inc. and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.