COPD Types

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for lung illnesses that restrict airflow and make breathing difficult. Over time, they deteriorate progressively. Nearly 15.7 million in the United States have been diagnosed with COPD, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that:

  • Yet it should be noted that women smokers have a roughly 50% higher risk of developing COPD than men. Respiratory failure is a leading cause of hospitalization and death in women with severe COPD.
  • An adults over the age of 65, people with a history of asthma, people who now smoke or who have smoked in the past

Obstructed airflow from the lungs is a symptom of COPD, a chronic inflammatory lung disease. Wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and mucus (sputum) production are all symptoms. Chronic exposure to irritant gases or particulate matter, most commonly cigarette smoke, is the usual culprit. Heart disease, lung cancer, and other health problems are more likely to occur in people with COPD.

The most frequent illnesses that contribute to COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Both of these issues are common in people with COPD; however, the degree to which they manifest varies from patient to patient. Inflammation of the bronchial tube lining causes chronic bronchitis. The bronchial tubes connect the trachea (windpipe) to the lungs' alveoli (air sacs). Daily coughing and sputum production are classic symptoms.

Damage to the lungs from cigarette smoke and other irritating chemicals and particulate matter causes the condition known as emphysema, in which the alveoli are damaged at the end of the minor air channels (bronchioles). Despite the fact that COPD is a worsening condition that can be treated, it is still treatable. Most persons with COPD can improve their symptom control and quality of life, as well as lower their risk for related illnesses, with the help of adequate care.

Types of COPD

COPD is characterized by a combination of chronic bronchitis and emphysema, the latter being the most frequent. Though some doctors believe asthma fits the criteria for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, others disagree. Here is a quick breakdown of asthma:

Chronic Bronchitis

The bronchial tubes (breathing passages) in the lungs are affected by bronchitis. This causes irritation, which in turn causes the tubes to expand. When these tubes get constricted, it causes respiratory issues, including wheezing and coughing. When you cough, there will be mucus involved. Due to this disease, breathing is hampered in both directions.

COPD is brought about by chronic bronchitis. What this signifies is that you have suffered from bronchitis for a total of six months over two years. When the hair-like fibers in your bronchial tubes, called cilia, vanish, chronic bronchitis sets in. Coughing up mucus from the lungs is hampered by this.

Increased mucus production and other alterations are hallmarks of chronic bronchitis, an ongoing condition characterized by bronchi inflammation (the lungs' air tubes).

These alterations can cause respiratory issues, frequent infections, persistent coughing, and even disability.

Pulmonary Emphysema

The ability of your lungs to deliver oxygen to your bloodstream is affected by emphysema. Loss of lung elasticity can make breathing harder.

Alveoli are damaged by emphysema. Those little sacs there are the air sacs in your lungs. The alveolar lining is ruined due to the injury. Approximately 300,000,000 alveoli make up your lungs. Due to this, their size will expand. Because of their increased size, your lungs will have more difficulty delivering oxygen to your blood.

It also opens up your lungs. Because air becomes trapped in them, breathing becomes more difficult. No amount of repair work will be able to undo this. As a long-term lung disease, emphysema causes alveoli (the air sacs in the lungs) to be:

  • Destroyed
  • Narrowed
  • Collapsed
  • Stretched
  • Over-inflated

This can lead to a decline in breathing capacity and a feeling of being unable to catch one's breath. When the air sacs in the lungs are damaged, the resulting "holes" in the tissue are permanent.


Even while asthma does not lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the two can coexist in the same individual. Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease overlap syndrome describe this situation (ACOS). All people over the age of 40 are at risk for this illness. It has been estimated that one in four people with COPD will be affected by this.

It can worsen respiratory symptoms, reduce the quality of life, and raise the likelihood of needing medical care in a hospital setting. Chronic asthma is a lung illness characterized by inflammation and frequent episodes of difficulty breathing. Some of asthma's defining features are as follows:

  • When this happens, swelling and inflammation develop in the airway lining.
  • Mucous membranes and muscles around the airways constrict.
  • Increased mucus production results in congestion caused by mucus plugs.

The Bottom Line

The two most common forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD has four distinct stages, from mild to extremely severe. Chronic coughing, respiratory distress, and wheezing are some possible symptoms. Medical professionals strongly recommend that patients with either kind of COPD cease smoking immediately. Furthermore, treatments such as medication and oxygen therapy, as well as changes in lifestyle such as not smoking, might be beneficial.

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