The Causes And Symptoms Of COPD

A team of doctors inspect a chest x-rayChronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly called COPD, is a collective that refers to three specific medical conditions. These are chronic asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In each of these conditions, the airways are obstructed which prevents air from flowing freely to and from the lungs. Moreover, these conditions can be permanent or long term and may even progressively worsen over time.

Each of the three medical conditions that make up COPD are generally taken to present their own unique symptoms, so a patient suffering from chronic shortness of breath is usually referred to as having emphysema. In reality, however, many patients exhibit symptoms that overlap between those of the three conditions. At Owl Now Urgent Care, we understand these details and we offer both Adult and Pediatric urgent care. If you find yourself or your child suffering from the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after hours, then we are there to take care of all your emergency needs.

Chronic Bronchitis

Bronchitis is a condition where the air passages swell and become inflamed. This causes the passageways to become obstructed and narrower. Excess mucus is also produced by the body as it attempts to soothe the inflammation, but this contributes to the blockage of the airways. With the airways so obstructed and covered in mucus, there are higher chances of bacterial lung infections. The condition is defined as being chronic when symptoms include a daily cough that persists for three or more months per year over a period of at least two consecutive years.


Emphysema describes the condition where the walls between the alveoli in the lungs are destroyed. The alveoli are small air sacs in the lungs that allow oxygen to pass into the blood, and the destruction of the walls between the sacs reduces the ability of the body to take in oxygen, making breathing difficult. Patients suffering from emphysema may also suffer from chronic fatigue because the body has to work harder simply to breathe.

In a healthy person, energy is needed only to breathe in air. Healthy lungs are elastic and breathing out is simply a passive process of the lungs deflating like a balloon to drive the air out. With this condition, however, in addition to potentially blocked airways, energy is needed when breathing out as well.

Chronic Asthma

Asthma is a common cause of breathing difficulties, and it involves a narrowing of the air passageways. Unlike in bronchitis, however, asthma is caused by spasms in the muscles that surround the airways. The muscles constrict, thereby blocking the airways. Recent studies have also found that asthma is caused, in part, by inflammation of the air passages, which contributes to the obstruction of those airways.


Treatment can involve a variety of medications, from decongestants to remove mucus from the air passages to anti-inflammatories to relieve breathing difficulties. COPD can be and often is, a serious condition and if you develop any of the symptoms of this condition, you should not hesitate to seek medical attention.