What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a general term which includes the conditions chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is the preferred term, but you may still hear it called chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD).
- Chronic means persistent.
- Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchi (the airways of the lungs).
- Emphysema is damage to the smaller airways and air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs.
- Pulmonary means ‘affecting the lungs’.
Chronic bronchitis or emphysema can cause obstruction (narrowing) of the airways. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema commonly occur together. The term COPD is used to describe airflow obstruction due to chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or both.