COPD is characterised by the presence of incompletely reversible airflow obstruction. A clinical diagnosis of COPD should be considered in any patient who has dyspnoea, chronic cough and/or sputum production, but confirmation always requires spirometry
Illustration of the bronchi (airways) in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Symptoms of COPD include a long-term cough with quantities of mucus (yellow) produced by the cells lining the airways (inset left), and emphysema.
John Bavosi / Science Photo library