Because of a lapse in government funding, the information on this website may not be up to date, transactions submitted via the website may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted.
The NIH Clinical Center (the research hospital of NIH) is open. For more details about its operating status, please visit cc.nih.gov.
Updates regarding government operating status and resumption of normal operations can be found at USA.gov.
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The "airways" are the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs through the nose and mouth. Healthy airways and air sacs in the lungs are elastic—they try to bounce back to their original shape after being stretched or filled with air, just the way a new rubber band or balloon does. This elastic quality helps retain the normal structure of the lung and helps to move the air quickly in and out.
In people with COPD, the air sacs no longer bounce back to their original shape. The airways can also become swollen or thicker than normal, and mucus production might increase. The floppy airways are blocked, or obstructed, making it even harder to get air out of the lungs.
For additional information on how COPD affects breathing, visit the NHLBI's Diseases and Conditions Index.