About COPD

It’s estimated that three million people in the UK are affected by COPD and it’s more common as you get older. COPD is a life-threatening lung disease that tends to get progressively worse and is most commonly caused by smoking.

A chronic illness is one that lasts a long time, sometimes for the rest of the affected person’s life. When describing an illness, the term ‘chronic’ refers to how long a person has it, not to how serious a condition is.

The term COPD has replaced the previously separate conditions of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Chronic bronchitis is inflammation of your bronchi – the main airways that lead from your windpipe (trachea) to your lungs. This inflammation can produce excess mucus that may block your airways and make you cough.

Emphysema damages the structure of your alveoli – these are tiny air sacs where oxygen passes into your blood. When the alveoli lose their elasticity this reduces the support of the airways, causing them to narrow.


21 Replies

  • One bit says

    ." COPD is a life-threatening lung disease that tends to get progressively worse. "

    Further on it says

    " There isn’t a cure or a way to reverse the damage to your lungs, but there are things you can do to stop COPD from getting worse. ".

    I'm going for the second one. :)

  • Hear hear Puff :)

  • Doing things to slow /stop it getting worse good choice :-)

    Smoke do nothing shortway to

    " COPD is a life-threatening lung disease that tends to get progressively worse. "

    bad choice :-(

  • My doctors are quite clear that it does not get any worse than it would with the natural ageing process. This is confirmed by sources mentioned on the BLF site.


  • Lynne its not as cut and dried as that. If we look after ourselves well and avoid further lung infections, don't smoke etc etc we may be lucky in that our lungs may not get any worse. On the other hand someone who chooses to continue to smoke will damage their lungs further and those who get repeated lung infections have a greater chance of further lung damage and unfortunately this can lead to their lungs getting progressively worse and sadly for some the illness is terminal.

    However many of us may not die from our lung condition but some other complication of the illness or we may just die of old age......

  • I agree Zee and my comments below, posted earlier actually reflect that.

  • of course it is a progressive terminal illness..............

    ive watched my nana die from it and my mother has it.

    my nana died fast from it faster than a lead balloon going down......

    id also say the information on this site from the BLF is not wot it seems !

    and doctors are not doing all they can to fight this horrid illness.

  • Roger, what you say goes against the latest evidence. Additionally, your comments are not helpful to those who are newly diagnosed and scared enough as it is.

    If my GP who is a specialist can provide me with written information about COPD as well as that from other souces, why do you think they are all wrong.

    If people continue to smoke with COPD, then yes it will get a lot worse. Otherwise your information is misleading.

    There are many people who post on this site who have lived with COPD for many, many years and they are proof of this.


  • Hear hear Lynne x

  • Misinformation condemned by all who have bothered to read or listen to information on this condition, absolutely fuming that this can be left here to frighten the newly diagnosed

  • 'Life' is a progressive illness, you could say terminal, eventually. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema have been around for many years. Yes, people will die from these conditions, but a lot depends on how soon the condition is diagnosed and what treatment is given, as well as how well the patient looks after themself and any other illnesses that may cause deterioration.

    Like Lnne, I'm also concerned that newcomers to this site will see your comment and be frightened by what you say. If you dispute the information being given out by the BLF and reckon doctor's are not doing enough then this is not the place to be protesting. People coming here need to know that they are not going to go down like a lead balloon but that many are continuing to live well beyond your limited expectations.

  • Well done Gordon - as always you are the rational voice of common sense and reason!

    Bev x

  • i had to reply to you roger,its the way you have put it.(saying its a progressive terminal illness)sorry about your nana,and your mother..i nursed my husband with c o p d.24 hours aday 7 days a week.for many years.takeing him in and out of hospital many times,he went into hospital over 8 years ago and never came out that time.i also have c o p d.which i was diagnosed with about 6 years ago.when my husband was a live THERE WAS'NT THE HELP THEN THAT THERE IS NOW..i have coped with my c o p d ,uptill Auguest this year,when the smell of paint and me smokeing while on holiday,and not takeing care of myself.caught up with me.i have been Realy poorly.but am now getting a lot better due to a Good doctor and Good c o p d nurses.and Mostley the realy good help and support from this site and the people on here,with out this site i think i would be in the canal now..i do agree that in places there is not enough being done ....take care Roger and look after your mom..we are precious...xx

  • Evo 1510

    My Heart goes out to you.Please try and be Upbeat,yes I know it's difficult. Let's try and think of the good days,and many more of them to come

  • Roger.

    I support the replies to you made by Gordon & Lynne.We are a happy bunch on here ,even though we are all suffering to different degrees.Stress has a bad effect on a lot of us & your scare-mongering is most certainly not helpful.Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion,but on this occasion i think you should keep yours to yourself.

  • I agree with all the comments, we have to be optimistic, I was diagnosed 11 years ago, didn't have another cigarette, and am now on oxygen, but apart from that I feel better this week than I did. Why? Because last week I went to stay with my daughter (I live in a bungalow), her toilet is upstairs, I take diuretics, so as you can imagine I climbed the stairs a fair few times. The excersise was obviously good for me. So put that in your pipe and smoke it Roger but not in front of your mother!!

  • Wow Carol

    11 Years since your diagnosis,that brilliant,and a inspiration to all of us!

  • Can I combine saying hello to responding to this post?

    Puffthemagicdragon counterbalanced Yamir's post with "There are things you can do to stop things getting worse".

    So far, in my experience, things haven't got worse. Since being diagnosed with mild Asthma/COPD about 12 years ago, my life has been revolutionised with clenil modulate and salbutamol inhalers. My GP told me that there was no need to limit exercise; my last lung function test had a BETTER score than the previous one.

    I appreciate that lots of people here can't get about that well but as caroleoctober's post shows, exercise at every level can help.

    I've seen COPD described in terms of stages (mild/moderate/severe) which imply a progression; if progression is not inevitable then to describe the disease in terms of stages might be misleading.

    Reading the posts on this site has helped me to understand the importance of getting early help in the case of colds that turn into chest infections and not to delay going to the GP in the hope that a cold will just go away - because chances are it won't! Trying to avoid chest infections in future by asking for antibiotics from my GP sooner rather than later is another way I'm going to try and delay any progression.

  • lol........

    well it is how it is and there is no cure so yes it is a progressive terminal illness.

  • About chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

    COPD, commonly known as smokers’ disease, is predominantly characterized by chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is a progressive degenerative lung disease that results in reductions in lung airflow, making it difficult to breathe. COPD is estimated to affect 210 million people worldwide and is projected to be the third leading cause of death by 2020. The economic burden of COPD in the UK is estimated to be £1.2 billion in health costs and lost productivity.

  • And brings in Revenue in taxes to the Chancellor in excess of 7 Billion,so I make that £5.2 billion profit to the Chancellor and the Taxpayers! not to mention many other hidden benefits. Let's just say smokers pay for their own treatment!

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