The number one risk factor for developing COPD is smoking. People who smoke or used to smoke are at a much greater risk for COPD than those who have never smoked.
Exposure to other lung irritants can also increase your risk for developing COPD. Some of those lung irritants are:
- Secondhand smoke
- Air pollution
- Chemical fumes
- Dust from the environment or workplace
Rarely, development of COPD is related to a genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. People with this condition have a low level of alpha-1 antritypsin (AAT), which is a protein made in the liver. Low levels of AAT make people more susceptible to smoke exposure and other lung irritants. COPD can worsen rapidly in people who smoke and have AAT deficiency.
Learn to Quit Smoking
COPD is only one of the many diseases caused or made worse by smoking. If you need help learning to quit, we can help.
Learn more about smoking cessation and classes through Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
If you have or think you may have COPD, we urge you to seek treatment as soon as possible. If you don’t have a physician, and you’d like to make an appointment with someone who understands COPD and how to successfully manage it, you may do so by calling our Physician Referral Department at 1-877-926-4664. You may also request a first time appointment online.
Tune in to Health
Listen to Malcolm M. DeCamp, MD, chief of thoracic surgery, discuss surgical treatment of lung cancer.