The disabling condition of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is one that is worth mention. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death among Americans and Canadians and affects more than 16 million Americans.

The two illnesses associated with COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema involves the destruction of air sacs, which are the millions of delicate little bulges clustered on the ends of the breathing tubes. Oxygen passes through these air sacs into the blood. Breathlessness upon even slight activity is the main symptom of emphysema. Chronic bronchitis involves the breathing tubes becoming irritated and inflammated. Typical signs of chronic bronchitis are a cough and the production of thick, yellow sputum.

Typically, if a person has one of emphysema or chronic bronchitis, he or she will have the other as well. Both are typically caused by cigarette smoking.

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