COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the term used to describe a lung condition that occurs as a result of damage to or obstruction of the airways of lungs. Conditions that may be classified as COPD include chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and while they may occur separately, they often occur together.
These conditions cause a narrowing of the airways which makes it difficult to breathe, and unlike conditions such as asthma, the damage caused is irreversible and generally progressive over time. Emphysema occurs when the walls of the alveoli or air sacs in the lungs lose their ability to stretch and constrict. This interferes with the normal breathing process and makes breathing difficult.
Chronic Bronchitis is characterized by a persistent and chronic mucous producing cough that continues for three months of the year for at least two years. The constant coughing results in inflammation of the airways which eventually results in scarring and damage to the lung tissue.
Symptoms of COPD generally come on gradually and slowly worsen over time. The most obvious symptoms of COPD are shortness of breath which is worse when exercising, and fatigue as not enough oxygen is getting to the body. Other symptoms will vary depending on the underlying condition and may include coughing, wheezing, excessive production of mucous, bluish lips, weight-loss and headaches.