Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, sputum production and wheezing. It's caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke. People with COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and a variety of other conditions.
Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common conditions that contribute to COPD. Chronic bronchitis is inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs. It is characterized by daily cough and sputum production. Emphysema is a condition in which the air sacs (alveoli) at the end of the smallest air passages (bronchioles) of the lungs are destroyed as a result of damaging exposure.
COPD is treatable. With proper management, most people with COPD can achieve good symptom control and quality of life, as well as reduced risk of other associated conditions.
July 21, 2015
- Balkissoon R, et al. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A concise review. Medical Clinics of North America. 2011;95:1125.
- Longo DL, et al. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed June 3, 2015.
- What is COPD? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd/. Accessed June 3, 2015.
- Standards for the diagnosis and management of patients with COPD. American Thoracic Society. http://www.thoracic.org/clinical/copd-guidelines/index.php. Accessed June 4, 2015.
- Hanley ME, et al. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Pulmonary Medicine. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2003. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=346§ionid=39883254. Accessed June 4, 2015.
- Foreman MG. Genes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Medical Clinics of North America. 2012;96:699.
- Rosenberg SR, et al. An integrated approach to the medical treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Medical Clinics of North America. 2012;96:811.
- AskMayoExpert. Chronic pulmonary obstructive disease. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
- Scanlon PD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 4, 2015.