Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an umbrella term that encompasses several respiratory illnesses that cause breathlessness, or the inability to exhale normally it is also refers to chronic obstructive bronchitis and emphysema. Both diseases limit airflow into and out of the lungs and make breathing difficult. COPD usually gets worse with time.
People usually experience symptoms, including shortness of breath, and normally cough up sputum (mucus from the lungs), especially in the morning. . Over time, the irritation causes the walls of the airways to thicken and develop scars. The airways may become thickened enough to limit airflow to and from the lungs. If that happens, the condition is called chronic obstructive bronchitis.
In a person with emphysema, the ruined air sac walls means less oxygen can pass into the blood. This causes shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing.
Cigarette smoking, a main cause of COPD, has increased among women. One theory is that cigarette smoke is more damaging to women than to men.