Causes of COPD
Cigarette smoking is one of the most common causes of COPD. However, long-term exposure to chemical fumes, dust, and even genetic factors can contribute to the condition as well. Researches have found that a gene-related disorder called alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, which causes an imbalance of proteins, can exacerbate the causes of COPD, causing the disease to progress faster than normal.
Most causes of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) involve repeatedly breathing in fumes and other things that irritate and damage the lungs and airways.
Specific causes of COPD can include:
- Cigarette smoking
- Pipe, cigar, and other types of tobacco
- Certain fumes or dust
- Genetic factors.
Cigarette smoking is the most common irritant that causes COPD. Pipe, cigar, and other types of tobacco smoking can also cause the condition, especially if the smoke is deeply inhaled.
Breathing in other fumes and dust over a long period of time may also cause COPD. The lungs and airways are highly sensitive to these irritants. They cause the airways to become inflamed and narrowed, and destroy the elastic fibers that allow the lungs to stretch and then come back to their resting shape. This makes breathing air in and out of the lungs more difficult.
Other things that may irritate the lungs and contribute to COPD include:
- Working around certain kinds of chemicals and breathing in the fumes for many years
- Working in a dusty area over many years
- Heavy exposure to air pollution
- Being around secondhand smoke (smoke in the air from other people smoking cigarettes).