What is COPD
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is the name used to describe a number of long–term lung problems which can make breathing difficult. Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema are the most common conditions included under this umbrella term of COPD.
Chronic Bronchitis is inflammation and swelling of the air passages (bronchi), over a prolonged time. The body produces excess mucus or phlegm, which you have to try to cough up.
Emphysema occurs when the little air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs are damaged. As air sacs are destroyed, the lungs are able to transfer less and less oxygen to the bloodstream. This causes shortness of breath.
Both of these conditions can co–exist and people can have symptoms which relate to both, hence the use of the general term COPD.
What Causes COPD?
In COPD a person’s airways are permanently damaged, usually due to prolonged irritation. In the majority of cases, smoking is the cause. However, occupational or environmental factors, such as dust or chemicals, and some inherited problems can also cause COPD. COPD tends to creep up on people. They can cope with it for many years before symptoms reach a point that that forces them to see a doctor.
Symptoms can include
• A persistent cough
• Production of mucus or phlegm
• Shortness of breath
• Chest infections
For more information download our Understanding & Living with COPD booklet