What is emphysema and copd?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term that describes a group of common lung diseases that make it difficult to breathe. 

COPD includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, severe (refractory) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis.

Emphysema involves progressive damage to the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs over time making it difficult to breathe. The tiny alveoli carry oxygen to the bloodstream. Emphysema forms holes in the inner walls of the alveoli, weakening the air sacs and making it difficult for the lungs to take-in enough oxygen to deliver to the bloodstream. Over time, emphysema also makes the airways less elastic, resulting in the alveoli collapsing and trapping oxygen in the lungs. So those with emphysema have difficulty exhaling air, which also means they have a difficulty inhaling, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3.4 million adults have been diagnosed with emphysema. In 2013, 8,284 individuals died from emphysema.

Chronic bronchitis involves a long-term cough with mucus. The risk of chronic bronchitis increases with age. In 2011, over 10 million Americas had chronic bronchitis. Seventy percent of those cases involved people over age 45. In addition, women have chronic bronchitis at double the rate of men. 

Asthma is considered severe or refractory when a patient is taking high doses of asthma medication but their symptoms persist and they continue to experience frequent bronchitis at double the rate of men.

Bronchiectasis involves a thickening of the walls of the airways (bronchi) due to chronic inflammation and/or infection leading to mucus accumulating.