COPD, also called chronic obstructive pulmonary, is not reversible, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. However, it is treatable and people can live with it for a long time.
COPD is progressive, says the NHLBI. This means that it gets worse over time. The lungs become less able to move air over time because the bronchial tubes become stiff, and the walls between the alveoli, or the tiny air sacs in the lungs, are broken down. The respiratory system in general suffers inflammation, and the bronchial tubes produce excess mucus that clogs them up.
Like many lung disorders, COPD is caused by smoking or exposure to other toxins, says the NHLBI.