Living With COPD


When first diagnosed with COPD, finding out the stage is the very important first step in managing your condition. Healthcare professionals use four different stages to describe the progression of COPD.



Although rare, a genetic condition, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, may cause COPD. Those with this condition have low levels of alpha-1 antitrypsin (AATD), a protein made in the liver. If you have this condition and smoke, COPD can worsen very quickly. Because not all individuals with COPD have AATD, and because some individuals with COPD have never smoked, it is believed that there are other genetic predispositions to developing COPD.


The single biggest risk factor for COPD is cigarette smoking. The more you smoke the greater your risk of developing COPD. Exposure to secondhand smoke can also increase your risk of developing COPD. COPD can also be attributed to long-term contact with harmful pollutants in the workplace such as chemicals, dust, or fumes.


Older individuals have a higher probability to develop COPD than younger individuals since COPD takes years to develop and they have often been exposed to certain risk factors longer. Most people who have COPD are at least 40 years old when they begin experiencing symptoms.


Limited financial resources or limited access to healthcare can greatly increase your likelihood of having COPD.