COPD vs. Emphysema Center

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the term doctors and other health care professionals use to describe a group of serious, progressive (worsens over time), chronic lung diseases that include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and sometimes asthma. The number one cause of COPD or emphysema, is smoking, and smoking is the third leading cause of death in the US. When a person first develops COPD, he or she may not have any symptoms. As the disease progresses, the symptoms worsen and become more severe and include:

  • Difficulty breathing with exertion or physical activity, which in the advanced stages, eventually leads to breathlessness all of the time.
  • Chronic cough
  • Excessive phlegm production
  • Upper respiratory infections like the flu or common cold.
  • Fatigue
  • A barrel-shaped chest
  • A bluish tint to the skin from lack of oxygen
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
There is no cure for COPD or emphysema, but it can be treated and managed with medications, for example: About 16 million people in the United States have COPD, and they do not know it.

You can prevent getting COPD or emphysema if you:
There is a genetic cause of COPD called alpha-1 antitrypsin.


CDC. "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)." Updated: Sep 16, 2016.

NIH; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "COPD National Action Plan." Updated: May 15, 2017.

NIH; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "What is COPD?" Updated: Apr 28, 2017.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)." Updated: Oct 31, 2014.

Victoria State Government. "Emphysema." Updated: Nov 2014.

Sharafkhaneh, A. et al. Emphysema. Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2008 May 1; 5(4): 475–477. doi: 10.1513/pats.200708-126ET

Boka, K. "Emphysema." Medscape. Updated: Aug 31. 2016.

Kleinschmidt, P. "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Emphysema in Emergency Medicine." Medscape. Updated: Jun 08, 2017.

Read more: COPD vs. Emphysema (Differences Similarities) Article


COPD Lung Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment See Slideshow

Treatment & Diagnosis

Medications & Supplements

Prevention & Wellness

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/27/2017

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