Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Living with COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) affects around 251 million people globally.1 It is a term that covers two types of chronic (long-term) diseases where the airways in the lungs become “obstructed” OR partly blocked.


COPD is a progressive disease, meaning it typically worsens over time. It cannot be cured, but it can be treated and managed so people with COPD can breathe better and live fuller lives.

COPD consists of two types of breathing diseases: (some people with COPD have both of these diseases)

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema


Chronic bronchitis makes the airways inflamed, red and swollen. Airways cannot clear the mucus and the glands in the airways make extra mucus (phlegm), resulting in full or part blockage of some of the airways. This leads to shortness of breath, cough, and coughing up mucus

Emphysema is when the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs are damaged. When your alveoli are damaged or destroyed, it becomes difficult for the lungs to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide and less oxygen gets into your body. Your lungs do not fully empty and air is trapped.


1. WHO COPD Key facts…-(copd)
2. Neil Barnes et al; COPD and exacerbations: Patient insights. BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2013
3. Burudpakee et al; Pulm Ther 2017 DOI: 10.1007/s41030-017-0027-5
4.… disease/overview/lifestyle-management/bring-up-mucus