When breathing becomes problematic regularly, you may have the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smoking is the leading cause of COPD, but you might still develop the condition even if you don't smoke. This disorder, which causes shortness of breath, can have other causes. Find out what triggers it, who is at higher risk, and what you can do to lessen your vulnerability.
What Causes COPD?
Smoking: By far, the most common cause of COPD is smoking cigarettes. Cigarette and pipe smoke include carcinogens that can be inhaled and cause the disease.
Secondhand smoke: You can get the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) through secondhand smoke even if you don't smoke (living with a smoker).
Fumes and pollution: Air pollution and fumes can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Workplace exposure to harmful chemicals, dust, or other particles can also play a role.
Genes: People with COPD sometimes have a flaw in their DNA, the code that instructs your body how to function normally. Alpha-1 antitrypsin insufficiency (sometimes written as AAT deficiency) describes this condition. This means your lungs are deficient in a protein that helps prevent harm to them. There is a risk that this will exacerbate existing COPD. Ask your doctor about testing for AAT deficiency if you or a family member has suffered from severe lung difficulties, especially at a young age.
Asthma: If you have asthma and don't get it treated, it could lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Risk Factors for COPD
Some risk factors for developing the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are:
- Smoking: The leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is tobacco.
- Asthma: If you already have asthma and light up, your odds increase dramatically.
- Age: Most cases don't manifest themselves till the patient is 40 or older.
- Jobs: Working around dust, chemical fumes, or vapors can harm your lungs and should be avoided if possible. Long-term exposure to air pollution is also dangerous.
- Infections: Increased risk of developing COPD in adulthood is associated with a history of frequent respiratory infections throughout infancy.
What Effects Does COPD Have on My Lungs?
Alveoli are tiny sacs found within the lungs. Each breath fills them up, making them look like a balloon. These sacs release their oxygen into your blood, exhaling the air in your lungs.
Individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) experience impaired lung function. Permanent damage can be done by exposure to irritants like smoke or other toxins for extended periods.
The alveolar linings become permeable as a result. As a result, your airways become enlarged and mucus-filled. Force needed to push out the stale air increases. Each breath doesn't provide you with adequate oxygen.
Usually, this progresses at a snail's pace. The signs and symptoms may develop gradually. It could take a while before you recognize them.
Tips to Prevent Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Your lungs will never recover from the damage you've already done to them. However, you can make adjustments to mitigate the situation.
- Stop Smoking: This is the most effective method for preventing or delaying COPD onset. No one who doesn't smoke should start. I urge smokers to put down cigarettes. Do not hesitate to seek assistance from your physician, loved ones, and friends.
- Don't take a deep breath of anything that makes your lungs hurt: Avoid exposure to airborne particles, smoke, and chemicals as much as you can.
- Keep an eye out for infections and viruses: Even mild flu can be dangerous for people with COPD. It's imperative to keep your hands clean and frequently wash them during flu season. If you don't have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer is your next best option. Avoid contact with sick persons if at all possible.
- Get vaccinated: Avoid getting the flu or pneumonia by keeping your lungs healthy.
- Get tested for AAT deficiency: this kind of COPD is passed on from parents and can be detected with a simple blood test. Even though it's not frequent, your doctor may order a chest x-ray if you're experiencing severe lung symptoms like shortness of breath and coughing that can't be attributed to smoking. Other risk factors include having a family history of AAT deficiency or developing emphysema (a form of COPD) before age 46. Those suffering from COPD can find relief through various treatments, including medications and alterations to their daily routines, which help them breathe more easily.