Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are together called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. This is a chronic condition where not enough air enters or leaves the lungs.
In chronic bronchitis, the airways (or bronchi) that connect the windpipe and the lungs become inflamed and swollen. The airways become narrow and are clogged up with thick mucus, called phlegm. Chronic bronchitis may be found together with emphysema, in which destructive changes of the air sacs in the lungs cause them to become larger, reducing the surface area where oxygen exchange takes place. Both diseases make it difficult to breathe.
It's a very common condition, especially among people who smoke. More than 700,000 Canadians have COPD In the United States, about 12 million are affected with this condition. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in both Canada and the United States.More women than men have COPD, except in the age category above 75.