Last updated: Apr 01, 2009

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease in which your lungs become inflamed or damaged, preventing air from flowing in and out normally. The most common COPD symptoms are persistent coughing, shortness of breath, and feeling like you can't breathe or exhale easily. COPD can refer to any airway blockage caused by chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or asthmatic bronchitis.



COPD is a serious, long-term illness. It is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. More than 12 million Americans have COPD and it is thought that at least as many other people have COPD and don't realize it.