Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is a term that refers to a group of lung diseases that can interfere with normal breathing. It is estimated that more than 11.6 million Americans suffer from COPD. It is the fourth leading cause of death in the US.
- Chronic bronchitis is a long-term inflammation of the bronchi (breathing passages in the lungs), which results in increased production of mucus, as well as other changes. These changes may result in breathing problems, frequent infections, cough, and disability.
- Emphysema is a chronic lung condition in which alveoli (air sacs in the lungs) may be destroyed, narrowed, collapsed, stretched, or over-inflated. This can cause a decrease in respiratory function and breathlessness. Damage to the air sacs is irreversible and results in permanent "holes" in the lung tissue.
Some physicians agree that asthma should be classified as a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, while others do not. A brief description of asthma is included below:
Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory lung disease involving recurrent breathing problems.
The characteristics of asthma include the following:
- the lining of the airways become swollen and inflamed
- the muscles that surround the airways tighten
- the production of mucus is increased, leading to mucus plugs