Risk Factors of COPD: The Basics of COPD


More than 250 million people worldwide suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD for short). Are you part of this group? Do you have concerns about potentially joining it one day?

The more you know about COPD, the easier it’ll be for you to prevent it or manage your symptoms effectively. Read on to learn everything you need to know, including the risk factors of COPD.

What Is COPD?

You understand the basic COPD meaning, but do you know what COPD is? The term COPD is a catch-all term for lung diseases that block airflow and hinder one’s ability to breathe. Some of the conditions that fall under this umbrella include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. 

COPD Symptoms

How do you know if you have COPD? Everyone’s experience with this condition is a bit different, of course, but there are some general symptoms that most people who suffer from COPD deal with, including the following:

  • Shortness of breath (especially when performing any physical activity)
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Chronic cough
  • Mucus produced from coughing that is white, clear, yellow, or green in color
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss 
  • Swelling in the feet, ankles, and/or legs

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s possible COPD could be the culprit. You’ll need to talk to your doctor to get a formal diagnosis, though.

COPD Causes

There are a lot of reasons why someone might develop COPD. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Long-term smoke exposure (cigarette smoke, pipe smoke, cigar smoke, etc.)
  • Exposure to other lung irritants (air pollution, chemical fumes, dust, etc.)
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (a rare genetic condition that can increase your risk of developing lung damage)

The existence of other chronic lung diseases can also increase your chances of developing COPD. One of the most common examples is asthma, as it narrows and inflames the airways.  

Risk Factors of COPD

If you have other chronic diseases or are regularly exposed to smoke or lung irritants, you face a higher risk of developing COPD. Keep in mind that those who regularly inhale secondhand smoke can develop COPD, even if they never smoke themselves. 

Age is another risk factor to keep in mind. Those who are older than 40 are more prone to COPD than those who are younger than 40 (although folks in this age group can still develop COPD).

Treatments for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

When it comes to treatment for COPD, lifestyle changes are often a good starting point. This includes quitting smoking and taking steps to avoid lung irritant exposure as much as possible. Bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids can help to minimize symptoms and improve quality of life, too. 

Prevent or Manage COPD Today

Now that you know more about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the risk factors of COPD, it’s time to take control of your health. Keep this information in mind so you can start taking steps to prevent pulmonary disease or manage it more effectively. 

Do you want to learn more about how to manage other health conditions? If so, check out the Health section of our site today for additional tips.

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