Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (cont.)
George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease facts
- What is COPD?
- How does the normal lung work?
- What is chronic bronchitis?
- What is emphysema?
- What is chronic asthma?
- What is bronchiectasis?
- What causes COPD?
- What are the symptoms of COPD?
- How is COPD diagnosed?
- What treatment is available for COPD?
- Quitting cigarette smoking
- COPD Medications
- Anti-cholinergic agents
- Breo Ellipta
- Treatment of Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
- What is the role of oxygen as therapy in COPD?
- What else is available for treating COPD?
- Future directions in COPD
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) FAQs
- Find a local Pulmonologist in your town
What is chronic bronchitis?
Chronic bronchitis involves inflammation and swelling of the lining of the airways that leads to narrowing and obstruction of the airways. The inflammation also stimulates production of mucous (sputum), which can cause further obstruction of the airways. Obstruction of the airways, especially with mucus, increases the likelihood of bacterial lung infections. Chronic bronchitis usually is defined clinically as a daily cough with production of sputum for three months, two years in a row. This definition was developed primarily for research so that like patients could be compared.
What is emphysema?
There is permanent enlargement of the alveoli due to the destruction of the walls between alveoli in emphysema. The destruction of the alveolar walls reduces the elasticity of the lung overall. Loss of elasticity leads to the collapse of the bronchioles obstructing airflow out of the alveoli. Air becomes "trapped" in the alveoli and reduces the ability of the lung to shrink during exhalation. This trapped air takes up space and results in a reduced amount of air that can be taken in during the next breath. As a result, less air gets to the alveoli for the exchange of gasses. This trapped air also can compress adjacent less damaged lung tissue, preventing it from functioning to its fullest capacity.
The exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen between air and the blood in the capillaries takes place across the thin walls of the alveoli. Destruction of the alveolar walls decreases the number of capillaries available for gas exchange. This adds to the decrease in the ability to exchange gases.
Usually, energy is only required for inhalation to inflate the lungs. The stretch of the lungs and distension of the chest cavity springs back to rest during exhalation, a passive process that does not require energy. However, in emphysema, inefficient breathing occurs because extra effort and energy has to be expended to empty the lungs of air due to the collapse of the airways. This essentially doubles the work of breathing, since now energy is required for both inhalation and exhalation. In addition, because of the reduced capacity to exchange gases with each breath (due to the collapse of the bronchioles and loss of capillaries), it is necessary to breathe more frequently.
Next: What is chronic asthma?
Viewers share their comments
- Submit »
Find out what women really need.