Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ­– or COPD – adversely affects the lungs by making it increasingly difficult for sufferers to breathe normally. According to the NIH, this disease is characterized by its progressive nature, meaning that it grows in severity with time. Although exposure to many irritants, like chemicals and airborne pollutants, can cause the condition, some 75 percent of sufferers smoked cigarettes sometime before contracting COPD. The exposure that leads to this disease can result in your lungs’ airways and air sac structures becoming inflamed, damaged, clogged, or destroyed, which prevents you from intaking sufficient oxygen and expelling enough CO2.