For more than 50 years, small airways disease has been considered a key feature of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a major cause of airway obstruction. Both preventable and treatable, small airways disease has important clinical consequences if left unchecked. Small airways disease is associated with poor spirometry results, increased lung hyperinflation, and poor health status, making the small airways an important treatment target in COPD. The early detection of small airways disease remains the key barrier; if detected early, treatments designed to target small airways may help reduce symptoms and allow patients to maintain their activities. Studies are needed to evaluate the possible role of new drugs and novel drug formulations, inhalers, and inhalation devices for treating small airways disease. These developments will help to improve our management of small airways disease in patients with COPD.
Editorial support was provided by Cindy Macpherson, PhD, of MediTech Media, UK,and was funded by Boehringer Ingelheim