Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a group of lung conditions that cause long-term damage to the airways. In COPD the airways are narrowed, due to a variety of causes, so the air you breathe cannot flow freely in or out of the lungs.
|Chronic = long term
Obstructive = describes the narrowing of the airways
Pulmonary = of the lungs
Disease = illness
The main symptoms of COPD are:
- Regular production of sputum (phlegm)
You may also have other symptoms such as repeated chest infections, weight loss and tiredness (fatigue).
Causes of COPD
The main cause of COPD is smoking.
- Up to 1 out of every 4 people (25%) who are long-term smokers will develop COPD
- In the UK, about 8 out of every 10 people with COPD are either current smokers or have previously smoked
Other factors that may cause COPD include:
- Poor air quality
- Work-related exposure to dust, chemicals and fumes
- Genetic factors, such as a deficiency in alpha-1 antitrypsin (a protein that protects your lungs)