Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

COPD; Chronic obstructive airways disease; Chronic obstructive lung disease; Chronic bronchitis; Emphysema; Bronchitis - chronic

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung disease. Having COPD makes it hard to breathe.

There are two main forms of COPD:

  • Chronic bronchitis, which involves a long-term cough with mucus
  • Emphysema, which involves damage to the lungs over time

Most people with COPD have a combination of both conditions.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD.The correct answer is fact. Smoking causes about 80% of all COPD cases. The more you smoke, the higher your risk of COPD. Other risk factors for COPD include secondhand smoke, pollution, or being exposed to certain fumes and gases at work. Quitting smoking doesn't help once you have COPD.The correct answer is myth. There is no cure for COPD, but quitting smoking can help your lungs work better and lower your risk of dying from COPD. If you smoke, talk with your doctor about ways to quit. Smoking both marijuana and tobacco increases your risk of COPD.The correct answer is fact. People who smoke both marijuana and tobacco have almost three times the risk of COPD compared with those who don't smoke. Experts aren't sure why, but they think smoking marijuana makes it easier for tobacco to damage the lungs. Most people can quit smoking on the first try.The correct answer is myth. Most people try to quit about seven times before succeeding. Using quit smoking aids can help. These include counseling, prescription medicines, and nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal spray -- some of which also require a prescription. Talk with your doctor about your options.Smokers have more COPD flare-ups than nonsmokers.The correct answer is fact. Flares-ups are the most common reason that people with COPD have to go to the hospital. Having flare-ups causes your lungs to get worse more quickly. Call your doctor if your COPD symptoms get noticeably worse. Men's lungs are more likely to be damaged by smoking than women's.The correct answer is myth. In fact, women's lungs are more likely to be damaged by smoking. This may be because of differences in genes or hormones. However, women who stop smoking get their lung function back more quickly than men. All smokers should try to quit. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor. Smoking is not addictive.The correct answer is myth. The nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products can cause the same kind of addiction as cocaine or heroin. When you smoke, the nicotine enters your lungs, gets absorbed into your bloodstream, and travels to your brain. How you smoke can affect how much nicotine gets into your body.The correct answer is fact. You may take in more nicotine if you inhale deeply into the lungs and take a lot of puffs. This is because nicotine gets absorbed into your body through the lining of your mouth and as well as your lungs. When you quit smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal levels.The correct answer is fact. Smoking raises your heart rate and blood pressure, and stopping helps them come back down. When you quit, you'll have less carbon monoxide in your blood, so it can carry more oxygen to your body. Your senses of taste and smell will improve. Taking a puff of a cigarette can reduce your craving for more.The correct answer is myth. One puff of a cigarette will make your craving stronger. Instead, look for other ways to satisfy your craving, such as chewing sugarless gum or eating a piece of fruit or other low-calorie snack. Take walks or ride a bike. Exercise helps relieve the urge to smoke.

Spirometry is a painless study of air volume and flow rate within the lungs. Spirometry is frequently used to evaluate lung function in people with obstructive or restrictive lung diseases such as asthma or cystic fibrosis.


Emphysema is a lung disease involving damage to the air sacs (alveoli). There is progressive destruction of alveoli and the surrounding tissue that supports the alveoli. With more advanced disease, large air cysts develop where normal lung tissue used to be. Air is trapped in the lungs due to lack of supportive tissue which decreases oxygenation.


Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchi, the main air passages to the lungs. It often results from a respiratory infection caused by a virus or bacteria. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing and fatigue.

Quitting smoking

The many methods of quitting smoking include counseling and support groups, nicotine replacement therapy, prescription medications, and incremental reduction.

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to chronic lung disorders that result in blocked air flow in the lungs. The two main COPD disorders are emphysema and chronic bronchitis, the most common causes of respiratory failure. Emphysema occurs when the walls between the lung's air sacs become weakened and collapse. Damage from COPD is usually permanent and irreversible.

Respiratory system

Air is breathed in through the nasal passageways, travels through the trachea and bronchi to the lungs.

For years, you've enjoyed relaxing with a cigarette in your hand, and looked forward to your cigarette breaks at work, but now, all of that smoking has caught up with you. You're coughing, wheezing, often out of breath. Could you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? Let's talk about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, for short. COPD is a lung disease that's usually caused by smoking, although some people who smoke for years never get the condition, while a few get COPD even if they've never lit up. Most people with COPD have a combination of a cough that just won't go away, called chronic bronchitis, and lung damage, called emphysema. The symptoms of COPD can sneak up on you slowly. Over time, you'll develop a cough that lingers, day after day. You'll feel tired, and have trouble catching your breath. Only your doctor can tell for sure whether this is COPD. To test for it, you'll need to breathe or blow into a machine as hard as you can, and hold that breath, as long as you can, in a test called spirometry. You may also need to have a blood test to determine how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in your blood. If you have COPD, the ways things stand now, you'll have it for life, as there is no cure for this disease. However, there are ways to control the condition and help you breathe more easily. The first thing you do, absolutely need to do, is stop smoking, which will help slow down the damage to your lungs. A few medicines can help relieve COPD symptoms. You may breathe in a bronchodilator medicine through an inhaler to open up your airways, or take steroids to bring down the swelling in your lungs. If you're having real trouble breathing though, call your local emergency services number. You may need to visit the hospital for oxygen or breathing assistance. You may also need to take antibiotics during flare-ups, because getting an infection can make your COPD worse. Though it may be hard to exercise when you're feeling out of breath, staying active will help keep your muscles strong. Your doctor can teach you how to breathe in a different way so that you can exercise with COPD. You can help avoid the shortness of breath, the coughing, and the wheezing of COPD by butting out, kicking your cigarette habit as soon as possible. Not smoking is the absolute best way to prevent COPD. Ask your doctor about programs and medicines that may make it easier for you to quit.



Exams and Tests


Support Groups

Outlook (Prognosis)

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional