Respiratory Diseases

Many New Zealanders experience acute or chronic respiratory conditions.

If you or someone you know lives with a respiratory condition, you can learn more about it and find out what you can do to manage your health. Our respiratory nurse educators are here to help and support you.

What is COPD?

COPD stands for “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease”

Chronic (long term – it won’t go away)
Obstructive (partly blocked airways)
Pulmonary (the lungs)
Disease (sickness)

COPD is a term for several breathing problems. It can include conditions such as  emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma. Common symptoms can include coughing, increased phlegm and breathlessness.

For more information


Asthma is a disease that can make it difficult to breathe. It inflames and narrows the airways and may cause wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing when exposed to irritants (triggers).
Someone with asthma has sensitive airways in their lungs. The airways may tighten/partially close, swell inside and make more mucus when you come into contact with a trigger. This makes it hard to breathe in but even harder to breathe out.

You can listen to the difference between normal breath sounds and those with a range of respiratory conditions here.

Someone struggling to breathe? Watch our Asthma First Aid video, to find out what to do in an emergency.

Find out more

Our Sponsors

We couldn't do what we do without help from our sponsors