What Are The Symptoms, Causes, And Risk Factors Of COPD?

COPD is short for chronic pulmonary disease, and it is a group of progressive lung diseases. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common COPD, and usually, people with COPD have both. Emphysema destroys the lungs' air sacs, interfering with outward airflow, while bronchitis causes inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes, allowing mucus to build up.

Some people are unaware that they have COPD. Unfortunately, COPD progresses fast without treatment, causing heart problems and worsening respiratory infections.

What causes COPD, and who is at risk of developing the disease? Kindly read on to find out.

What Are The Symptoms Of COPD?

You must visit a doctor if you notice even the mildest symptoms. Since COPD makes breathing difficult, the initial symptoms may be mild, including shortness of breath and intermittent coughing. With time, the symptoms become more constant, causing increasing breathing difficulties.

COPD symptoms include wheezing, chest tightening, excess sputum production, and acute exacerbation. This section goes further to highlight the early and worsening symptoms of COPD.

Early Symptoms

Because the early symptoms of COPD are mild, you may mistake them for a cold. The early symptoms of COPD include occasional shortness of breath, mild recurrent cough, and the need to clear your throat often, especially first thing in the morning. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is advisable to skip physical activities and avoid stairs.

Worsening Symptoms

Without proper treatment, symptoms of COPD may become progressively worse and hard to ignore. With more lung damage, symptoms of worsening COPD include shortness of breath with mild forms of exercise, including walking the stairs, tightening of the chest, chronic cough, which may be with or without mucus. Other symptoms include wheezing, especially during exhalation, lack of energy, frequent colds and other respiratory infections, and the need to clear mucus from your lungs every day.

Later stages of COPD have symptoms including fatigue, weight loss, and swelling of the ankles, feet, or legs. 

Causes Of COPD

Studies show that most people with COPD are over 40 years of age and have some history of smoking. Long-term exposure to fumes, chemicals, and air pollutants can also cause COPD. 

What Are The Risk Factors Of COPD?

Risk factors that increase your chance of developing COPD include;

Tobacco exposure: long-term exposure to tobacco smoke is a major risk factor for COPD. Therefore, continuous smoking over the years increases your risk. People at risk include pipe smokers, marijuana smokers, and cigar smokers. Also, people exposed to large amounts of secondhand smoke are at risk of developing COPD.

Asthma: Asthma is the chronic inflammation of the airways, and people with asthma have an increased risk of developing COPD. Furthermore, if people with asthma are exposed to smoke, developing COPD is higher.

Exposure to dust and chemicals: in the workplace, long term exposure to irritants like chemical fumes, dust, and vapor, can cause lung inflammation and, eventually, COPD

Exposure to fumes: fumes from burning fuel, especially from cooking and heating in poorly ventilated homes, can increase COPD risk. This risk factor is more prevalent in developing countries.

Genetics: some cases of COPD are because of an uncommon genetic disorder, and the disorder is present due to the deficiency of alpha-1-antitrypsin. Furthermore, some genetic factors can increase smokers susceptibility to the disease.

Treatment For COPD

COPD is a lifelong disease, and the treatment available can only help ease your symptoms and slow down the disease progression. Common treatment methods for COPD include oxygen therapy and surgery. Oxygen therapy involves getting supplemental oxygen through a mask, helping you breathe better, while surgery is for cases where other treatments fail.

Certain lifestyle changes like improving your nutrition and avoiding smoke can also help alleviate york symptoms.


COPD is a health condition that affects the lungs, and the disease can cause more severe conditions like heart disease without proper treatment. If you notice symptoms like occasional shortness of breath and mild recurrent cough, you should visit your doctor.