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What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the chronic blockage of airways in the lungs. This blockage causes air to be trapped in the lungs even after a person exhales, resulting in shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. COPD includes two related diseases, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Individuals with COPD usually have a combination of both. In the United States alone, over 16 million people suffer from COPD, and it is the fourth most common cause of death.  Smoking is the most common cause of COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the term for a group of persistent lung diseases where the airways become blocked, which makes it hard to breathe. Chronic means persistent, and pulmonary relates to the lungs.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.