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Staying Healthy

About COPD

Doctor measuring man's blood pressure

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. It is caused by damage to the lungs over time. It usually takes many years for lung damage to cause symptoms. COPD is most common in people who are over 60 years old.

The two most common forms of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Both are chronic, or long-term, diseases. They prevent proper airflow in the lungs. If you have COPD, you may have a mix of both diseases.

What is Chronic Bronchitis?

If you have chronic bronchitis, this means the airways that carry air to the lungs get inflamed and make a lot of mucus. This can narrow or block the airways. This makes it hard to breath. People with chronic bronchitis also develop a cough. It is caused by the extra mucus in the airways. This cough lasts for at least three months of the year, for two years in a row.

What is Emphysema?

In a healthy person, the tiny air sacs in the lungs are like balloons. As you breathe in and out, they get bigger and smaller. This moves air through your lungs. But with emphysema, these air sacs are damaged and lose their ability to stretch like a balloon. When they can no longer stretch, less air is able to get in and out of the lungs. As a result, people with emphysema feel short of breath. It makes it hard to breathe.

COPD gets worse over time. You can't undo the damage to your lungs:
  • There are steps you can take to prevent more damage.
  • There are also steps you can take to make you feel better.
  • Talk to you provider today about how to manage COPD!

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