Understanding COPD/Emphysema

COPD is the second most common lung disease in the UK. The condition is caused by pollutants that get into the lungs, initially blocking (obstructing) the airways as well as causing chronic inflammation.

Smoking is the main cause of COPD.

The symptoms of COPD include:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Cough
  • Mucus production
  • Wheezing

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Did you know that there are 4 stages of COPD?8

GOLD 1 – Mild COPD

  • Lung function: equal to or more than 80% over target value
  • Slight problems breathing
  • Chronic cough and sputum may occur

GOLD 2 – Moderate COPD

  • Lung function: 50% -79% of the target value
  • Affected people feel slight dyspnoea during strenuous physical activity

GOLD 3 – Severe COPD

  • Lung function: 30%-49% from target value
  • Severe breathing problems and frequent coughing with viscous sputum
  • Symptoms under slight exertion

GOLD 4 – Very Severe COPD

  • Lung function: less than 30% of target value
  • Severe shortness of breath during daily activities/very limited resilience
  • Sometimes permanent oxygen supply required

Two common types of COPD include:

Chronic bronchitis

A form of COPD which involves inflamed and constricted bronchi as well as long-term cough and mucus production.


A severe form of COPD where the damage to the lung results in creation of large air spaces instead of small ones where air you breathe becomes trapped (like a balloon) and the lung overexpands — this is called hyperinflation.

Do you have emphysema, a form of COPD?

Take a first self-test to better estimate the risk of having severe emphysema.

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