What is COPD / Chronic bronchitis?

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) / Chronic Obstructive Airway Disease (COAD) is a disease of the airways in lungs.
  • COPD as the name suggests is usually a long standing illness (present for a long time).
  • COPD is a broad term which includes two entities:¬†
    • Chronic Bronchitis¬†
    • Emphysema
  • A patient is said to be suffering from Chronic Bronchitis if he has cough and he produces sputum (phlegm) for at least three months in a year, for two successive years.
  • Emphysema is said to occur when a large number (usually millions) of alveoli (air bags) in the lung tissue are destroyed, such that the lung’s capacity of gas exchange is reduced. It makes breathing more difficult and inefficient as the patient’s lungs are not able to exchange the harmful carbon dioxide.
  • It is often seen that both chronic bronchitis and emphysema overlap each other, because of which both are included under one heading, COPD.
  • In chronic bronchitis the wind pipe( trachea) and smaller air tubes (bronchi and bronchioles) get narrowed and partly clogged with mucus.
  • In emphysema, the air bags (alveoli) stretch out and get destroyed, thus becoming stiff, instead of being elastic, and then finally break down.