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How does chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affect the lungs?

Lung damage in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) happens in two ways. First, in chronic bronchitis the goblet cells are overactive and make too much mucus, which blocks the airways. The second way the lungs are damaged is called emphysema. Here, there are too many immune system cells in the lungs. The cells, in response to the inflammation caused by inhaling cigarette smoke, release chemicals that damage the lungs. This means that the structure of the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs) gets damaged and the airways become inflamed and thickened.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.