COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) (cont.)
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COPD is often a mix of two diseases: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Both of these diseases are caused by smoking. Although you can have either chronic bronchitis or emphysema, people more often have a mixture of both diseases.
Almost all people with chronic bronchitis are, or have been, tobacco smokers. Over time, tobacco smoke and other lung irritants can lead to inflammation in the airways of the lungs (bronchial tubes). As a result, the airways produce more mucus than they normally would. Inflammation and excess mucus cause coughing and narrow the airways. It is hard to breathe through the narrow airways, so you feel short of breath.
Long-term (chronic) mucus production and inflammation over many years may lead to permanent lung damage and may make it more likely that you will get lung infections.
In emphysema, tobacco smoke and other irritants can damage the elastic fibers in the lungs. These stretchy strands of tissue are needed for normal lung function. They allow the lung tissue to stretch when you breathe in and help pull the lungs back to their normal size and shape as you breathe out. When the elastic fibers are damaged:
Other possible causes of COPD include:
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