Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Introduction to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
People must breath in order to live. The process of breathing (“respiration”, in medical terminology) is critical because it is the sole mechanism through which vital gasses such as oxygen and carbon dioxide can move between the air and the blood. When someone breaths in, oxygen is removed from the air and dissolved into the blood where it is used as fuel by the body’s cells. When someone breaths out, cellular waste products like carbon dioxide are removed from the blood and exhaled back out into the air. This complex transfer of gasses takes place in the lungs and involves a number of structures associated with the lungs that help move gasses between the lungs and the air: the bronchi (airways or passages within the lungs), and the alveoli (tiny air sacs composed of special membranes found at the end of the bronchi at which point the transfer of gases between the blood and the air occurs).