Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly referred to as COPD, is a group of progressive lung diseases. The most common are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Many people with COPD have both of these conditions.
Emphysema slowly destroys air sacs in your lungs, which interferes with outward air flow. Bronchitis causes inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes, which allows mucus to build up.
The top cause of COPD is tobacco smoking. Long-term exposure to chemical irritants can also lead to COPD. It’s a disease that usually takes a long time to develop.
Diagnosis usually involves imaging tests, blood tests, and lung function tests.
There’s no cure for COPD, but treatment can help ease symptoms, lower the chance of complications, and generally improve quality of life. Medications, supplemental oxygen therapy, and surgery are some forms of treatment.
COPD makes it harder to breathe. Symptoms may be mild at first, beginning with intermittent coughing and shortness of breath. As it progresses, symptoms can become more constant to where it can become increasingly difficult to breathe.
You may experience wheezing and tightness in the chest or have excess sputum production. Some people with COPD have acute exacerbations, which are flare-ups of severe symptoms.