Chronic BronchitisChronic bronchitis is a condition in which the bronchial tubes in the lungs become chronically inflamed due to an irritant - usually cigarette smoke. This inflammation leads to increased mucus production, producing a chronic cough and making breathing difficult.
EmphysemaContinued exposure to cigarette smoke or other lung irritants will, over time destroy the delicate structure of our lungs by breaking down the walls between air sacs (alveoli). This damage results in fewer, larger air sacs, which spells trouble for lung function. The lung's ability to properly process the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between blood and the air we breathe relies on the surface area of the alveoli. Large sacs means less usable oxygen, leaving a person with emphysema breathless. Damage from emphysema is irreversible.
Symptoms of COPD:
- sputum (mucus) production
- shortness of breath, especially with exercise
- wheezing(a whistling or rattle type noise) when you breathe in
- tightness in the chest
Don't be discouraged.
While quitting may not return your lung function to 100% of what it was before you started smoking, it will improve your breathing and the way you feel overall. And don't forget - you also greatly reduce your risk of other smoking-related illnesses when you quit smoking, most of them life-threatening. Many people with COPD live productive, comfortable lives after quitting tobacco.
Stick with your quit program - you're on the right track. Your lungs are thanking you for not abusing them any longer!
Information for this article obtained from NHLBI: COPD