Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseaseIntroduction

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common lung diseases. It makes it difficult to breathe. There are two main forms of COPD:

  • Chronic bronchitis, defined by a long-term cough with mucus, and
  • Emphysema, defined by destruction of the lungs over time.

Most people with COPD have a combination of both conditions.

Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. The more a person smokes, the more likely that person will develop COPD although some people smoke for years and never get COPD.

Other risk factors for COPD are:

  • Exposure to certain gases or fumes in the workplace;
  • exposure to heavy amounts of secondhand smoke and pollution;
  • and frequent use of cooking gas without proper ventilation.
Symptoms include cough with mucus, shortness of breath (dyspnea) that gets worse with mild activity, fatigue, frequent respiratory infections, and wheezing.

There is evidence that vitamin D deficiency is associated with impaired lung function, suggesting that higher serum 25(OH)D levels could reduce the symptoms of COPD. 

Page last edited: 06 May 2011