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How do you get COPD?

COPD is caused by long–term exposure of the lungs to something harmful to them and is the result of permanent damage.1

Common causes1,2

COPD is usually caused by smoking, and unfortunately passive smoking (inhaling someone else’s cigarette smoke) can cause it too.

Toxic Fumes
Air pollution

It can also be caused by exposure to air pollution, or by inhaling dust or fumes at work.

These aren’t the only causes, but they are the most common.1

There may also be a genetic component to someone’s risk of developing COPD, as it often runs in families. A rare genetic condition called alpha-1-antitrypsin can also make people susceptible to developing COPD very early.

Approval code: RESP-IE-NP-00023

Date of preparation: October 2020

  1. British Lung Foundation. COPD: Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Available at: Last accessed: October 2020.
  2. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. Global strategy for the diagnosis, management, and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 2019 report. Available at: https://goldcopd. org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/GOLD-2019-v1.7-FINAL-14Nov2018-WMS.pdf. Last accessed: October 2020.

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