copd terms

Glossary of COPD Terms

We’re passionate about giving comfort to those who have trouble breathing. Most people already know that Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a debilitating condition that can really restrict one’s quality of life which is why we put together a guide for those diagnosed with or wanting to learn more about COPD. This post is part of our guide, for the complete guide subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll email it to you automatically. Otherwise you can find a hard copy at your local COPD specialist clinic.


Alveoli – tiny air sacs in the lungs which accommodate gas exchange
Bronchial tubes – airways in the lungs which branch off the trachea in to smaller airways
Bronchioles –  tiny airways in the lungs which bring air to the alveoli
Cannula – a plastic tube which attaches to an oxygen concentrator at one end and has a fitting to the patient’s mouth or nostrils at the other end
Capillaries – tiny blood vessels that line the walls of the alveoli and facilitate gas exchange in the lungs
Continuous flow – continuous flow oxygen concentrators emit a constant, steady supply of oxygen
COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Diaphragm – a sheet of skeletal muscle below the rib cage, which contracts and expands as you breathe to make room for the breath in the lungs
Diaphragmatic breathing – a breathing technique which calls for contraction of the diaphragm on inhalation in order to allow more air into the lungs
Dyspnoea – shortness of breath
Exacerbation – a sudden worsening of symptoms
Gas exchange – in respiration, the exchange of the waste gas carbon dioxide and oxygen in the lungs
HOT – home oxygen therapy
LPM – litres per minute (the official measurement of oxygen used by oxygen concentrator manufacturers)
MDT – multi-disciplinary team (the team of healthcare professionals consigned to your COPD care)
Medical oxygen – any oxygen prescribed to aid oxygen deficiency, usually supplied in a pure form through an oxygen concentrator
Oxygen concentrator – a device which filters pure oxygen from the air into the patient’s mouth or nostrils
POC – portable oxygen concentrator
Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) – breathing tests run by healthcare professionals to assess lung function
Pulmonary artery – the artery that carries deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs
Pulmonary veins – the veins which carry oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart
Pulmonary rehabilitation – long-term rehabilitation of the lungs which usually includes, but is not limited to, exercise training and breathing training
Pulse flow – An oxygen concentrator setting which emits only a “pulse” of oxygen while you inhale, rather than a continuous supply
Pursed lip breathing – a breathing technique which entails pursing the lips and clenching the abdominal muscles on exhalation
Sputum – mucus from the lower airways


If you can think of any other terms to include in our list of COPD related terms please leave us a message and we’ll update our list.