What are the Causes of COPD?

COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; is a respiratory disease that affects the lungs. This is an ailment that makes it hard to breathe, restricts physical movements, tightness of the chest, wheezing, and creates a heavy mucus deposit during coughing episodes.

Main Causes of COPD

This debilitating disease is caused by prolonged years of

  • cigarette smoking, second-hand smoking (inhaling smoke from another smoker),
  • working in an environment that is polluted by chemical fumes, polluted air, dusty,  or moldy.

Any environment that inhibits the inhalation of clean air, after long-term exposure is the ideal condition for the development of COPD. There is also the possibility of a genetic  disposition to having this disease which is called AAT,alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.This genetic condition is when the liver is unable to produce a certain protein. Having this low level of protein, AAT can cause lung damage thus causing COPD, if exposed for a long time to any of the causing factors like cigarette smoking. Asthmatic persons who are exposed to any of the above conditions have the likelihood of developing COPD later in life. With the onset of asthma and possibly developing COPD, the condition will develop rapidly. With control of the asthmatic symptoms by arresting the inflammation and narrowing of the airways, COPD may not develop; if not addressed, the disease may develop.

Signs and Symptoms of COPD

Because COPD is a lifestyle disease, the symptoms come on gradually.

  • Some persons may have symptoms of a continuous cough with heavy deposits of mucus,  which is known as “smokers’ cough” while there may be flu symptoms or colds that seem to not go away.
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing or a whistling sound while breathing is other signs of the onset of COPD.

Persons within the ages of 40 and are heavy smokers, may notice these conditions but consider them to be attacks of cold or flu. This maybe so, but a good rule of thumb is to have your lungs checked to determine what the causes are for these ongoing symptoms. Not everyone that have these symptoms has COPD while not everyone will have these symptoms that have COPD, other diseases may develop, and only a doctor is able to make the correct diagnosis. Ignoring these symptoms will make the disease worse and most times the disease is diagnosed later in life. This makes it harder for older persons to tolerate the disease.

Some severe symptoms of COPD are swelling of the ankles, feet or legs and rapid weight loss,having a hard time breathing, lips, fingers and fingernails turn blue from low levels of oxygen in the blood, rapid beating of the heart and not being mentally alert. If these symptoms occur, you will need to be hospitalized.

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