COPD is caused by damage to the lungs over time
There are a few different things that can cause this damage to the lungs but smoking is almost always the cause of COPD.
When you smoke, you breathe in fumes that damage your lungs and airways. Over time they are destroyed. This makes it hard for air to pass in and out of the lungs and airways.
If you smoke, stop now! It is never too late to quit. Even if you already have COPD, you should quit. It will help slow the disease and improve your quality of life.
Secondhand smoke may also lead to COPD. If you live with a smoker, secondhand smoke may put you at risk. It can cause damage to your lungs and airways even if you do not smoke.
Where you live and work can also cause COPD. Cities with a lot of air pollution can cause lung damage over a long period of time. Air pollution can also make your COPD worse. If you have COPD, try not to go outside when air pollution levels are high.
Exposure to lung irritants at work can also destroy your lungs. Breathing in industrial dust, chemical fumes or toxic gas at work can put you at risk for COPD. If your workplace exposes you to these fumes, wear a safety mask.
You may also be more likely to get COPD if you had a lot of serious lung infections when you were a child. Lung infections can make your lungs and airways weak.
COPD can also be inherited. In very rare cases, emphysema (one type of COPD) can be passed on to you from your parents.