What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (also called COPD) is a lung disease that makes it hard for you to breathe. COPD includes two main illnesses: chronic bronchitis and emphysema (say: “em-fa-see-ma”). Most people who have COPD have both of these conditions.
Your lungs have 2 main parts: bronchial tubes (also called airways) and alveoli (also called air sacs). When you breathe, the air moves down your trachea (or wind pipe) through your bronchial tubes and into your alveoli. From the alveoli, oxygen goes into your blood while carbon dioxide moves out of your blood.
If you have chronic bronchitis, the lining in your bronchial tubes gets red, swollen, and full of mucus. This mucus blocks your tubes and makes it hard to breathe.
If you have emphysema, you lose alveoli. This makes it hard for you to get oxygen into and carbon dioxide out of your blood. It also makes it harder to exhale (breathe out).
This content has been supported by Forest Laboratories Inc.
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Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff