COPD involves two chronic lung diseases.
- Chronic bronchitis: In chronic bronchitis there is a long lasting cough and mucus production. The airways in the lungs become swollen and produce more mucus.
- Emphysema: In emphysema there is damage to the walls of the air sacs or alveoli in the lungs. This resuls in a smaller total number of air sacs. Fewer air sacs means that the lungs are not able to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream as well. Also the lungs may not be able to get rid of carbon dioxide as well. The damaged lungs loose their stretchiness or elasticity.
When Alpha-1 affects the lungs, it can cause COPD and is called inherited emphysema. Learn more.