Definitions - What is COPD

The term "COPD" is an abbreviation which consists of the first letters of the defining expressions. Since airways and air sacs are often affected at the same time, this definition of COPD includes emphysema (air sacs are destroyed) and chronic bronchitis (airways narrow and produce mucus).

The severity of this disease varies. In the past, typical disease patterns with a single dominating characteristic of a certain type were referred to as "pink puffer" (type of emphysema) and "blue bloater" (type of bronchitis). Colloquial expressions for COPD are "smoker's lung" and, based on the main symptom, "smoker's cough".

Typical symptoms of COPD are breathlessness [dyspnoea] (at first only on exertion [dyspnoea on exertion], later at rest [dyspnoea at rest]), cough and sputum. A general decrease in exercise capacity (stairs are too steep) can be observed.