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COPD Causes: How Does COPD Happen and Why?

COPD Causes: How Does COPD Happen and Why?

COPD causes can be difficult to determine. We’re here to help make sense of it all.

Receiving a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be devastating. In particular, what can often be most troubling is the process of figuring out what caused the disease to develop in the first place. To start, only about 20-30% of cigarette smokers will develop COPD, meaning that a great majority of those diagnosed with the disease can find themselves in a state of shock as other smokers continue smoking unaffected. When this happens, many of those diagnosed with COPD question the cause, wondering what makes them so different to be affected by the disease specifically. In truth, there are a variety of causes for COPD, but without question, the predominant cause of COPD is tobacco smoking. However, as with any respiratory condition, the lungs can be further influenced by a variety of differing factors.

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give you the information you need on COPD Causes: How Does COPD Happen and Why?

COPD Causes: A Brief Overview

COPD Causes: How Does COPD Happen and Why?

When it comes to COPD causes, the largest influencer for those who develop the disease is cigarette smoking. After that, the top influencers are typically second hand smoke, air pollution, poor working conditions (for instance working in a coal mine, or construction) and your genetics. To start, even for those who do not smoke but live with others that do, an atmosphere of second-hand smoke can create a hazardous respiratory environment, leading to damage within the lungs.

For those that live in busy and polluted cities (look at Beijing, China), pollution in the air can further exacerbate the lungs and promote the development of respiratory illnesses, such as COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, and interstitial lung disease (ILD).  In similarity to pollution outside, poor air conditions indoors, such as construction work conditions, can be a leading contributor to COPD development as well. Finally, although this is rare (affecting only 100,000 people in the US), the genetic condition of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency can be a contributing cause to the development of the disease.

How Does COPD Happen?

COPD is actually the term for a combination of respiratory conditions. These conditions are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In the former, emphysema often causes the feeling of breathlessness in those with COPD. As the walls within the lungs are destroyed, the small airways within them collapse on exhalation hampering airflow.

In the case of the latter, chronic bronchitis is the condition of frequent and uncontrollable fits of coughing. This occurs when the bronchial tubes (tubes within the lungs) become inflamed, swell, narrow the lungs’ passageways and produce more mucus, which ultimately contributes to further lung blockage. In combination, these two conditions form the basis and pathophysiology of COPD.

Okay, So I Understand the COPD Causes: What Can I Do About It?

As we’ve mentioned before, and we’ll say again, the most influential thing you can do to stop the progression of your disease is to quit smoking immediately. At the Lung Institute, we cannot stress that enough. Each cigarette you smoke is taking roughly 7 to 11 minutes off your life, and if you’ve got COPD or another lung disease and are still smoking, it will only contribute to the worsening of your quality of life.

Assuming that you’ve already quit or are in the process of quitting, the next area to tackle is your diet and how often you’re exercising. Both of these fields are critical to a healthy life and are that much more important if COPD causes you frequent fatigue and breathlessness.

Eating healthy is the easy part. Many of us know how to do it but just don’t want to. However, if you need some help, start here.

As far as exercise, the hardest effort is really just summoning the will to get up and do it. Start slow, and give yourself a day in between to relax. Pick a schedule like Tuesdays and Thursdays, or Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and set a goal. A goal can mean walking to the mailbox or around the block. Doing 20 squats in your living room while the news is on. The key is to start small and build up from there.

Moving Forward

COPD Causes: How Does COPD Happen and Why?

COPD causes can be hard to determine sometimes, but having a better understanding of your disease is crucial to treating it. As a core condition of chronic lung disease, frequent shortness of breath can have a devastating effect on your quality of life. However, by changing your diet, consistently exercising and quitting smoking, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms within those with COPD, pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema. When lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than simply addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.

If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic lung disease like COPD, PF or ILD, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult stem cell treatment options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for stem cell therapy, and find out what stem cell therapy could mean for you.

Interested in our article on COPD Causes: How Does COPD Happen and Why? Share your thoughts and comments below.


  1. Lung Institute

    1 month ago


    Thank you for your comment. We hope we are providing good information regarding our stem cell therapy and other tips for managing COPD and other lung diseases.

    We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell therapy for chronic lung diseases. We have a dedicated medical team who have a wealth of knowledge about stem cells, treatment options, candidacy, cost and more. So, feel free to give us a call at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  2. Steven Lentini

    1 month ago

    Looking forward to receiving more information on stem cell therapy.

  3. Nick lussier

    11 months ago

    I would love to try anything very interesting article !!

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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