COPD: Major Causes and Symptoms

COPD: Major Causes and Symptoms

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties. It includes:

  • Emphysema: Injury to the air sacs in the Lungs
  • Chronic bronchitis: Long-term inflammation of the Airways

The breathing problems tend to get slowly worse over time and can limit your normal activities. Many people mistake their increased breathlessness and coughing as a normal part of aging.

In the early stages of the disorder, you may not observe the symptoms. COPD can develop for years without noticeable shortness of breath. You start to see the symptoms in the more developed stages of the disease.

What are the Causes?

The primary cause of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke. Other causes are:

  • Internal Air Pollution (such as solid fuel used for cooking and heating)
  • Outside Air Pollution
  • Work-related Dust and Chemicals (such as vapors, irritants, and fumes)
  • Frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood
  • A small number of people have a rare form of COPD known as alpha-1 deficiency-related emphysema. This kind of COPD is triggered by a genetic condition that affects the body’s capability to produce a protein (Alpha-1) that protects the lungs.

What are the risk factors of COPD?

Risk factors for COPD include:

Exposure to tobacco smoke

The most major risk cause for COPD is long-term cigarette smoking. The more years you smoke and the more packets you smoke, the higher your risk. Pipe smokers, cigar smokers, and marijuana smokers also may be at risk, as well as people exposed to large amounts of secondhand smoke.

People with Asthma who Smoke

The blend of asthma, a chronic inflammatory airway disease (read more about asthma causes and symptoms), and smoking raises the risk of COPD even more.

Work-related exposure to Dust and Chemicals

Long-term contact with chemical fumes, vapors, and dust in the place of work can irritate and inflame your lungs.

Contact to fumes from Burning Fuel

In the growing world, people exposed to smokes from burning fuel for cooking and heating in poorly ventilated homes are at higher risk of developing COPD.


COPD grows gradually over the years, so most people are at least 40 years old when symptoms begin.


The rare genetic disorder alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is the cause of a few cases of COPD. Moreover, genetics can also play a role in a person’s development of COPD even if the person has never smoked or has ever been exposed to strong lung irritants in the workplace.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

The chronic obstructive pulmonary disease develops gradually and generally becomes apparent after 40 or 50 years of age. COPD symptoms often don’t appear until major lung damage has happened. At first, symptoms of COPD can be very mild. You might tend to dismiss them as a cold.

Early symptoms include:

  • Rare shortness of breath, particularly after exercise
  • Mild but repeated cough
  • Want to clear your throat frequently, particularly first thing in the morning

Symptoms can get more and more worse and difficult to ignore. As the lungs become more injured, you may suffer:

  • Wheezing, or noisy breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • A long-lasting cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
  • Frequent colds, flu, or other respiratory infections
  • Lack of energy

In later stages of COPD, symptoms are:

  • Swelling of the feet, ankles, or legs
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (Cyanosis)

Symptoms are possible to be much worse if you currently smoke or are often exposed to smoke.

Disclaimer: All material on is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of your physician for any questions regarding your symptoms or medical condition and before taking any home remedies or supplements.