Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive condition affecting the respiratory system that causes difficulty breathing and is the third leading cause of death in the United States according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Unfortunately there is no cure for COPD at this time; however, preventative measures, early detection, and change in behavior can abate the growth of the disease, which is why it is important to know the leading causes of this common affliction.
By far the most prevalent cause of COPD is cigarette smoke and that of other tobacco products such as cigars and pipes, most notably when the resulting smoke is inhaled.
Second-hand smoke, while not always as apparent, can also cause the development of COPD in individuals who live with a habitual smoker or are otherwise regularly exposed to large amounts of cigarette smoke.
Much like second-hand smoke, air pollutants or fumes can also contribute to the advent of COPD in people frequently exposed to an abundance of toxins in the air that they breath, especially those associated with the burning of fuels.
Approximately 2-3% of those suffering from COPD are subject to the disease due to a genetic defect called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency that inhibits the body from protecting the lungs sufficiently, opening up the possibility of the development of COPD over time.
Albeit uncommon, asthma does have the potential to cause COPD when left untreated due to damage associated with the common respiratory condition.
If you feel that you may be predisposed to COPD due to the common risk factors, consult your primary care physician on potential lifestyle changes they may prevent or delay the progression of the disease and read further for more information on the signs and symptoms of COPD.