Other Health Topics:
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
Your airways branch out inside your lungs like an upside-down tree. At the end of each branch are small, balloon-like air sacs. In healthy people, both the airways and air sacs are springy and elastic. When you breathe in, each air sac fills with air like a small balloon. The balloon deflates when you exhale. In COPD, your airways and air sacs lose their shape and become floppy, like a stretched-out rubber band.
Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of COPD. Breathing in other kinds of irritants, like pollution, dust or chemicals, may also cause or contribute to COPD. Quitting smoking is the best way to avoid developing COPD.
Treatment can make you more comfortable, but there is no cure.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
|Home | Health Topics | Drugs & Supplements | Encyclopedia | Dictionary | News | Directories | Other Resources|
|Disclaimers | Copyright | Privacy | Accessibility | Quality Guidelines
U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894
National Institutes of Health | Department of Health & Human Services
|Date last updated: 14 April 2009
Topic last reviewed: 11 February 2009