COPD - Causes

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What were the causes of your case of COPD?

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What causes COPD?

The primary cause of COPD is cigarette smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke. It is estimated that 90% of the risk for development of COPD is related to tobacco smoke. The smoke can also be secondhand smoke (tobacco smoke exhaled by a smoker and then breathed in by a non-smoker).

Other causes of COPD are related to air pollution, such as that seen with burning coal or wood and with industrial air pollutants.

Infectious diseases that destroy lung tissue and patients with hyperactive airways or asthma may also contribute to causing this disease.

The physical changes or causes are airway obstruction by thick mucus or by poor lung tissue compliance (the elasticity, or ability of the lung tissue to expand) that can either block air from entering the alveoli or by not permitting the alveoli to expel CO2 because the elastic tissue becomes nonfunctional. The overall result is that oxygen in the air cannot get by obstructions (for example, thick mucus plugs) to reach alveoli; or as is the case with emphysema or alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, the oxygen or air that reaches alveoli cannot be expelled. In either case, the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that usually occurs in healthy alveoli is either inhibited or prevented. Consequently, the person exhibits a progressive difficulty, first coughing to remove obstructions like mucus, and then in breathing, especially with exertion.

Healthy Lung
Healthy Lung
Return to COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

See what others are saying

Comment from: DaveB1, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: April 22

I smoked for about 25 years. I quit and I seem to have gotten better. I caught pneumonia twice one winter and never have been the same since. I have a mild case of COPD.

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