(HealthDay News) -- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, affecting some 16 million Americans and potentially millions more who don't know they have it.
According to the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, COPD can make it difficult for people to breathe and harm their quality of life.
In COPD, less air flows in and out of the lung's airways due to one or more of these factors:
- The airways lose their elastic quality.
- The walls between some of the air sacs are destroyed.
- The walls of the airways become thick and inflamed.
- The airways make more mucus than usual and become clogged.