COPD Disease


Welcome Message

COPD, which stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a disease of the lungs and bronchial tubes that leads to difficulty breathing.  You breathe air in and out of your lungs through bronchial tubes, sometimes called “airways.” In COPD, these bronchial tubes are narrowed, making breathing difficult.   Common symptoms in COPD are shortness of breath while doing physical activities, cough, and sputum production.

You may have heard of two diseases, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  In fact, these two diseases are now considered part of COPD.  In chronic bronchitis the bronchial tubes are inflamed and narrowed, and they make excessive mucus.  The excessive mucus leads to a chronic cough with sputum production, which is a common sign of chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis also may cause wheezing, which is a whistling sound when you breathe.  In emphysema, your air sacs (you have millions of them) gradually over decades lose their elasticity, and their walls develop holes. Since this elasticity helps keep the bronchial tubes open, in emphysema these airways tend to close partially during exhalation.   Thus, chronic bronchitis and emphysema both lead to partial obstruction of the bronchial tubes and are part of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD.

The American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the COPD Foundation welcomes you to this website and to “COPD Week at the ATS” and hope that you will take the opportunity to learn more about this disease.

Richard ZuWallack, MD
Chair,  Assembly on Pulmonary Rehab
& Member, Board of Directors
American Thoracic Society

Bill Clark
Director, Outreach Programs
COPD Foundation
Member, ATS Public Advisory Roundtable

ATS COPD PARtner  — COPD Foundation

The mission of the COPD Foundation is to develop and support programs which improve the quality of life through research, education, early diagnosis, and enhanced therapy for persons whose lives are impacted by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The programs developed by the COPD Foundation help to increase awareness about COPD, its management, and resources available to individuals with COPD, caregivers, healthcare professionals, leaders in the COPD community, or the general public.

Disclaimer: "The ATS Lung Disease Week Web site is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for personal medical attention, a diagnosis from a physician, or direct medical care.  If you are concerned about your health or that of a family member, please consult your family's healthcare provider immediately. Do not wait for a response from our members, staff or partners."