The number one risk factor for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is smoking. In around three-quarters of cases, the COPD patient is either a smoker or has been a smoker. The onset of symptoms of COPD usually begin in middle age but it’s not unusual for symptoms to start in a person’s 40s.
In addition, if you’re a smoker with a family history of COPD then you have an even higher risk of developing the disease according to the National Institutes of Health.
There are other risks factors for the condition, which include being exposed to lung irritants such as chemical fumes, dust from industries, air pollution and secondhand tobacco smoke.
In rare cases, COPD is genetic. If a person has an alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, they are more likely to develop a serious lung condition like emphysema, and the risk is further increased if the person smokes. This is usually the cause in cases where the patient is under the age of 40. People who already suffer from asthma may also go on to develop COPD.
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