COPD is a grossly misunderstood disease. Commonly thought to be an elderly gentleman's disease, a lifelong smoker... Someone who perhaps worked in a very polluted environment, like coal mining. This is simply not true. As the number of people diagnosed with COPD grows, more and more women are being diagnosed. Many people under 40, and nonsmokers. With increased awareness, and earlier detection, I believe we will see an increase in much younger people having COPD.
This article serves to educate the public about the facts. The true causes of COPD.
It is currently estimated that 210 million people worldwide have COPD.
SO, WHAT CAUSES COPD?COPD is an umbrella term used by medical professionals to describe a variety of illnesses that affect the lungs. Emphysema, asthma, and chronic bronchitis are a few of the most well known players under the COPD umbrella.
Genetics - Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency is the best known genetic cause of COPD. It is an inherited gene that affects the lungs and the liver. Your liver makes the protein Alpha-1 antitrypsin or "AAT", which is normally sent to your lungs to protect it from other harmful proteins.. But, the proteins may be misshapen and become lodged in the liver. This causes a deficiency in your lungs and an over abundance in your liver. When this happens, both your lungs and your liver can be damaged. Also, a very small number of Alpha-1's may develop a rare skin condition called necrotizing panniculitis.
While Alpha-1 is the best known genetic condition, there are others that have been recently discovered. More research is needed. Specific racial groups have a genetic predisposition to COPD as well. Specifically, Chinese and Mestizo Mexicans. Again, more research needs to be done.
There have been many new studies done identifying other genetic variances that may contribute to COPD.
*Pollution - ALL forms of pollution directly contribute to COPD. Indoor air pollution at work or at home, and outdoor pollution.
In the home, cooking gas, dust, mold, pet dander, air fresheners, chemical cleaners, carpet fiber fragments, hairspray, cooking spray, anything that gets into the air in your home is pollution.
Workplace pollution depends on where you work.
A factory worker or machinist will have fumes from solvents, metal fragments, dust, plastic fragments, wood particles, and more are in the air.
An office worker may have to deal with dust, paper particles, toner powder, perfumes, colognes, and more.
Someone working with animals will find dust, pet dander, chemical cleaners, nail filing dust, fungus, pollen, hair clipping fragments...
Someone that works in various retail settings may notice dust, fabric particles, chemical solvents, perfumes and colognes, cooking fumes, food particles, and any of the other things listed depending on what is sold.
Outdoor pollution consists of many things, most noticeably, fumes from cars. Pollen, dust, smoke from fires, there are just too many to list.
Bacteria - Frequent bacterial infections of the lungs causes damage. Some people with COPD have bacteria colonies living in their lungs.
Viruses - Viral infections can damage lung tissue.
Fungus - Fungi can damage lung tissue.
Allergies - Cause inflammation, and often mucus that provides a great breeding ground for bacterial infections to thrive.
Acid Reflux or GERD- Also, silent reflux, can spill over into the lungs and the food particles can cause and infection which damages lung tissue. Likewise, the acidic fluid can damage the lungs.
Immune System - An immune response to irritants, causes inflammation.
Damaged nerves - Nerves that control breathing can be damaged, therefore making it harder to inhale and exhale properly.
Muscle atrophy - The muscles used to breath properly may atrophy (waste away) leaving little control of breathing. Accessory may muscles take over, but are not as efficient for respiration.
**Dental Health - The presence of periodontal disease and/or cavities are linked to COPD. "In individuals with periodontitis, bacteria present in the gingival sulcus or the subsequently formed periodontal pockets, may have easy access to the blood vessels. The microorganisms may also enter the lungs by inhalation, but the most common route of infection is of oropharyngeal (mouth and throat)secretions. Therefore, it is plausible that oral microorganisms might infect the respiratory tract, causing COPD."
Smoking - Damages lungs. With COPD you are already unable to exhale the carbon dioxide. Smoking adds carbon monoxide. The combination of negative gases is poisoning your body. Starving your lungs of oxygen.
*I find it funny that these last two, and every other article I found, came up limited data, or inconclusive...