Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
COPD is a lung disease that affects and damages the airways in your lungs, making it harder and harder to breathe over time. Both chronic bronchitis and emphysema can be part of COPD. While quitting smoking is one way to slow down the rate of damage COPD causes in your lungs, COPD is a progressive disease that gets worse over time.
The good news is that COPD is treatable. Taking medication on a regular basis can help you breathe easier. That’s exactly why your doctor would prescribe COMBIVENT RESPIMAT as part of your COPD treatment plan.
Your treatment plan will also include quitting smoking. And, depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to take other medications and do simple exercises to help with your breathing. Your doctor may modify your treatment plan over time to help keep your symptoms under control.
How COPD damages your lungs and makes it hard to breathe
Inflammation and mucus narrow and restrict your airways (chronic bronchitis)
Your body’s immune system responds to long-term irritation by causing the airways in your lungs to narrow. This happens as inflammation causes airway walls to thicken and airways to become clogged with mucus. It also causes the muscles around your airways to tighten up, further limiting airflow in and out of your lungs and making it hard to breathe. Unlike the bronchitis you may experience with a common cold or other virus, chronic bronchitis can persist in some form over months or years in COPD patients.
Airway With Chronic Bronchitis
Trapped air limits the amount of air you can breathe in and out (emphysema)
According to the American Lung Association, there are also tiny air sacs clustered like bunches of grapes in your lungs (called alveoli). Inflammation in your airways causes the inner walls of these air sacs to weaken and eventually break down—creating fewer large air spaces instead of many small ones. This reduces the surface area of the lungs and reduces the amount of oxygen that is able to reach your bloodstream. The damaged air sacs are also unable to squeeze out all of the air inside them when you exhale. This air becomes trapped in your lungs, leaving less room for fresh air. All of this can make you feel short of breath.
Air Sacs With Emphysema
Symptoms may get worse for a while, or new symptoms may develop (flare-ups or exacerbations)
You may develop new symptoms or feel your usual symptoms worsen. When that happens, it’s referred to as having a flare-up, or exacerbation. COPD flare-ups can be unpleasant and may, in some cases, result in hospitalization.
COPD doesn’t go away. So following up and talking with your doctor will always be important for your breathing.