Alternate Names : COPD, Chronic obstructive airways disease, Chronic obstructive lung disease, Chronic bronchitis, Emphysema, Bronchitis – chronic
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common lung diseases. It makes it difficult to breathe. There are two main forms of COPD:
- Chronic bronchitis, defined by a long-term cough with mucus
- Emphysema, defined by destruction of the lungs over time
Most people with COPD have a combination of both conditions.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. The more a person smokes, the more likely that person will develop COPD although some people smoke for years and never get COPD.
In rare cases, nonsmokers who lack a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin can develop emphysema.
Other risk factors for COPD are:
- Exposure to certain gases or fumes in the workplace
- Exposure to heavy amounts of secondhand smoke and pollution
- Frequent use of cooking gas without proper ventilation
Pictures & Images
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 generally follows a viral respiratory infection. Symptoms include; coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing and fatigue.
The many methods of quitting smoking include counseling and support groups, nicotine patches, gums and sprays, 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.
Smoking and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder)
Cigarettes contain many hazardous substances that damage the lung when inhaled, including tar nicotine, carbon monoxide, and cyanide. Long-term exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and/or repeated respiratory infections also can increase a person’s risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.
Air is breathed in through the nasal passageways, travels through the trachea and bronchi to the lungs.
Review Date : 10/9/2009
Reviewed By : Andrew Schriber, MD, FCCP, Specialist in Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Virtua Memorial Hospital, Mount Holly, New Jersey. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.