What is COPD 2

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, describes a group of lung conditions that make it difficult to empty air out of the lungs because the airways have become narrowed.

Two of these lung conditions are long-term (or chronic) bronchitis and emphysema, which can often occur together.

  • Bronchitis means the airways are inflamed and narrowed. People with bronchitis often produce sputum, or phlegm.
  • Emphysema affects the tiny air sacs at the end of the airways in your lungs, where oxygen is taken up into your bloodstream.
  • They break down and the lungs become baggy and full of bigger holes which trap air.

These conditions narrow the airways. This makes it harder to move air in and out as you breathe, and your lungs are less able to take in oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.

The airways are lined by muscle and elastic tissue. In a healthy lung, the springy tissue between the airways acts as packing and pulls on the airways to keep them open.

COPD, the airways are narrowed because:

  • the lung tissue is damaged so there is less pull on the airways
  • mucus blocks part of the airway
  • the airway lining becomes inflamed and swollen