Main Cause of COPD

As you age and your body is exposed to irritants that cause damage repeatedly over the years, your body is not able to heal as well. In the case of your lungs and airways, the consistent harm can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Other forms of COPD like chronic bronchitis and emphysema are most often linked to smoking but nonsmokers can develop CODP too.


When it comes to the majority of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cases, cigarette smoking is the main cause. Almost 85 to 90 of people with COPD smoked and exposed their lungs to the toxins from the cigarettes repeatedly. A single cigarette releases more than 7,000 chemicals when it burns; the majority of those chemicals are harmful to your lungs’ defense system. Cigarette smoking also narrows the air passages, causes swelling in the air tubes and eventually destroys the air sacs. Each one of these negative side effects contribute to COPD.

Your Environment

Whether the air you breathe is compromised with pollution, secondhand smoke or chemicals, when the quality of air at home or at work every day is poor, you can eventually develop COPD. Even regular exposure to dust and fumes when you are outside can lead to COPD.

Alpha-1 Deficiency

There is a very rare form of COPD called alpha-1 deficiency-related emphysema that affects a very small number of people. This type of COPD is a result of a genetic condition resulting from the body’s inability to produce the Alpha-1 protein. The role of this protein is to protect the lungs so the COPD develops because the body does not have a barrier against irritants.

COPD Risk Factors

The biggest risk factor that you can control for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is smoking. You are more likely to develop chronic bronchitis and emphysema and eventually die as a result from smoking. Nearly all cases of COPD, 85 to 90 percent, are caused by smoking and female smokers are 13 times more likely to die from COPD than women who never smoked. Male smokers are 12 times more likely to die from COPD than men who never smoked. To account for the remaining percentage of the COPD cases, you can try to avoid or minimize your risk of COPD by monitoring:

* How you work with chemicals
* How regularly you breathe in dust and fumes
* The frequency you are exposed to air pollution
* How often you breathe in secondhand smoke
* Your family history of Alpha-1 deficiency and your genetic predisposition to having it
* Your childhood history of respiratory infections

Steps to Reduce Your Risk for COPD

The best way to help yourself if you are concerned about developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is to stop smoking. Taking the step to quit smoking is the most important thing you can do to give yourself the opportunity to have a healthier and longer life. The American Lung Association is the first place to start if you are looking for resources to help you quit smoking. If you are not a smoker now, don’t start to reduce your risk of COPD, cancers, and heart disease. If you live with a smoker, reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke. Make your home and your car smoke free.

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