Asthma   COPD

What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is an adult lung disease where the airways are swollen and squeezed by small muscles around them and the tiny air sacs at the tips of the airways may also be damaged.

Airflow to and from the lungs is obstructed interfering with normal breathing. COPD includes the conditions of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Airways
of a Person
Without COPD
Airway
Inflammation of a
Person With COPD
Airway
Constriction of a
Person With COPD

The airways are clear and open. No swelling occurs and the muscles around the airways are relaxed.

Airways are red and swollen (inflammation). Mucus can block the airways.

Muscles tighten around the airways (bronchoconstriction).
Inflammation and bronchoconstriction narrow the airways. This narrowing often becomes permanent and causes a persistent cough, cough with mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness.
COPD affects over 200,000 people in New Zealand, almost 15% of the adult population over 45 years old.1

About 85% of people with COPD in New Zealand are, or have been smokers.2

Other causes are:

  • Second-hand smoke
  • Air pollution (dust, smoke, chemicals, fumes)
  • Repeated lung infections as a child
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (a rare hereditary condition)

The health benefits of quitting smoking start within hours. Click here to see a smoke-free benefits timeline.

Helpful programmes to quit smoking

Seretide keeps the airways open while reducing the swelling and irritation in COPD

Your COPD may not be under control if you have any of the following:

  • An increase or decrease in the amount of mucus
  • An increase in the stickiness of mucus
  • Blood in the mucus
  • Mucus becomes brown, yellow or green in colour
  • An increase in breathlessness, coughing or wheezing
  • Symptoms of a cold (e.g. sore throat)
  • Unexplained tiredness or fever
  • Chest tightness
  • Unexplained swelling
  • If you need to use more pillows to sleep comfortably

If you experience one or more of these warning signs, your COPD treatment needs to be reassessed by your doctor or contact your nearest Accident & Emergency clinic.

Note: Seretide should not be used to relieve a sudden attack of breathlessness or wheezing. If you get this sort of attack you must use a quick acting inhaler (e.g. Ventolin) also known as a reliever puffer. Always carry your blue Ventolin reliever inhaler with you.


Help Control your Breathlessness and Wheezing Day and Night