A Comprehensive COPD Glossary: A Guide to Understanding COPD

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
The term used to describe several different lung diseases, which are basically similar in that they include the symptom of lung inflammation. Emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma are all diagnosed under COPD.

Chronic Bronchitis
Long term irritation and inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which causes the production of excess mucus and coughing. Acute bronchitis lasts for a shorter amount of time and does not keep coming back over a short period of time. It's considered chronic if it lasts for more than 3 months and comes back within 2 years.

Two things happen in the lungs with emphysema. The tiny air sacs called alveoli are too damaged to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide from the lungs to the blood stream. The smallest airways in the lungs called the bronchioles are damaged and have lost their ability to stretch during respiration, resulting in trapped carbon dioxide in the lungs.

Having lost most control over respiration during an exacerbation (flare up), resulting in excessive rate and depth of breathing.

A response the body has to an irritant, usually resulting in swelling and redness and sometimes production of fluids such as mucus.

Substances that can cause a reaction in the body, different from an allergic reaction. Common lung irritants are strongs scents, air pollution, smoke and chemical fumes.

Also referred to as phlegm or sputum when coughed up, is a fluid produced in the body that is supposed to protect and clean, but excess amounts are produced when the lungs are irritated.

Nasal Cannula
Used to deliver oxygen from an oxygen source. Two rubber prongs are connected to the rubber tubing, which fit into the nostrils.

Oxygen Concentrator
A machine that takes the surrounding air and filters to a much higher purity of oxygen, which can be breathed in. This is often prescribed to those who need supplemental oxygen for COPD, or other conditions that cause a low blood oxygen level.

Respiratory Failure
Having lost the ability to properly bring in oxygen or expel carbon monoxide as the body requires.

Respiratory Therapist
A specialized health care professional who helps treat those with lung diseases.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation
A program which includes exercise, counseling and teaching you how to better manage your lung disease. You might learn the best ways to exercise, which medicines are best for you, as well as lifestyle changes you can make.

Sleep Apnea
During sleep, when someone stops breathing for anywhere from 10 seconds to longer than one minute. This results in poor oxygen levels and other problems associated with it, such as heart problems and memory loss.

Also known as the windpipe, which is the main airway to both lungs.

A common symptom of COPD, when a whistling noise is heard from the lungs during respiration.

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