NIH-What Causes COPD
submitted by linairis about 10 years ago
What Causes COPD? Most cases of COPD develop after long-term exposure to lung irritants that damage the lungs and the airways. In the United States, the most common irritant that causes COPD is cigarette smoke. Pipe, cigar, and other types of tobacco smoke also can cause COPD, especially if the smoke is inhaled. Secondhand smoke%u2014that is, smoke in the air from other people smoking%u2014also can irritate the lungs and contribute to COPD. Breathing in air pollution and chemical fumes or dust from the environment or workplace also can contribute to COPD. In rare cases, a genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency may play a role in causing COPD. People who have this condition have low levels of alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT)%u2014a protein made in the liver. Having a low level of the AAT protein can lead to lung damage and COPD if you're exposed to smoke or other lung irritants. If you have this condition and smoke, COPD can worsen very quickly.