COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. This is a term used for a number of conditions associated with airflow obstruction; including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.It is a long-term condition which leads to damaged airways in the lungs, causing them to become narrower and making it harder for air to get in and out of the lungs. The word 'chronic' means that the problem is long-term.
Chronic bronchitis: bronchitis means 'inflammation of the bronchi'. These are the tubes or airways which carry oxygen from the air through the lungs. This inflammation increases mucus production in the airways, producing phlegm which makes you cough.
Emphysema: this is where the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs lose their elasticity. This reduces the support of the airways, causing them to narrow. It also means the lungs are not as good at getting oxygen into the body, so you may have to breathe harder. This can result in shortness of breath.
Can we prevent COPD?
COPD cannot be cured once you have it, but treatments may help. For most people, stopping smoking reduces the risk of developing COPD and also slows down its progression. However, some people develop COPD for other reasons which may be more difficult to prevent.