Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung disease. Having COPD makes it hard to breathe.
There are two main forms of COPD:
Chronic bronchitis, which involves a long-term cough with mucus
Emphysema, which involves damage to the lungs over time
Most people with COPD have a combination of both conditions.
Smoking is the main cause of COPD. The more a person smokes, the more likely that person will develop COPD. But some people smoke for years and never get COPD.
In rare cases, nonsmokers who lack a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin can develop emphysema.
Other risk factors for COPD are:
Exposure to certain gases or fumes in the workplace
Exposure to heavy amounts of secondhand smoke and pollution
Frequent use of a cooking fire without proper ventilation
Symptoms may include any of the following:
Cough, with or without mucous
Many respiratory infections
Shortness of breath (dyspnea) that gets worse with mild activity
Trouble catching one's breath
Because the symptoms develop slowly, some people may not know that they have COPD.