A member asked:

Whats the difference between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema?

10 doctors weighed in across 4 answers
Dr. William Walsh answered

Specializes in Addiction Medicine

Holes vs. airway: Emphysema is a disease of progressive destruction of lung tissue, resulting in lungs that look like swiss cheese. COPD can result from emphysema (due to loss of airway elasticity), but is primarily a disease of airway collapse when breathing out - leading to air trapping in the lung and difficulty breathing.

Answered 2/24/2020


Dr. Frank Mayo answered

Specializes in Pulmonary Critical Care

Fxn vs form: COPD refers to physiologic air flow obstruction. Emphysema refers to destruction of lung parenchyma resulting in air flow obstruction.

Answered 6/10/2014


Dr. Dennis Clifford answered

Specializes in

COPD: COPD represents both emphysema and chronic bronchitis since it can be difficult to separate how much is present in any individual and the symptoms are similar. The big difference is chronic bronchitis produces a cough with sputum production and emphysema causes breathlessness without sputum. The damage in emphysema occurs in the air exchange units; the damage in bronchitis occurs in the airways.

Answered 12/13/2014


Dr. Sue Ferranti answered

Specializes in Internal Medicine

Category....: Empysema is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, copd. There are also other diseases that are a type of copd, like chronic bronchitis.

Answered 5/30/2012



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