What is COPD?

What is COPD?

COPD
stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It means the airways in your lungs are
blocked (obstructed). This makes it hard to breathe. You may have trouble with daily
activities because of shortness of breath. Over time the shortness of breath often gets
worse. This makes it harder to take care of yourself and take part in activities. Chronic
bronchitis and emphysema are 2 common types of COPD.

How did I get COPD?

Most
people get COPD from smoking. Cigarette smoke damages lungs. This can develop into COPD
over many years.

How COPD affects you

COPD
makes you work harder to breathe. Air may get trapped in the lungs. This prevents your
lungs from filling completely with fresh oxygen-filled air when you breathe in (inhale).
It’s harder to take deep breaths, especially when you are active and start breathing
faster. Over time your lungs may become enlarged, filled with air that does not
transfer oxygen into the blood. These problems lead to shortness of breath (also called
dyspnea). Hoarse, whistling breathing (wheezing) and a chronic cough are common. So is
feeling tired and worn out (fatigue). 

What happens in chronic bronchitis?

The cells in the airways make more
mucus than normal. The mucus builds up, narrowing the airways. This means less air
travels into and out of the lungs. The lining of the airways may also become swollen
(inflamed). This causes the airways to narrow even more.

What happens in emphysema?

The small airways are damaged
and lose their stretchiness. The airways collapse when you exhale. This causes air to
get trapped in the air sacs. This means that less oxygen enters the blood vessels. And
less oxygen is delivered to all of the cells of your body. This makes it hard to
breathe.

Damage to cilia

Cilia are small hairs that line and
protect the airways. Smoking damages the cilia. Damaged cilia can’t sweep mucus and
particles away. Some of the cilia are destroyed. This damage makes COPD worse.