7 Things That Cause COPD Besides Cigarettes
Wood smoke and coal
Wood and coal are both biomass fuels. Many people around the world burn them to produce heat or light. Heat is another byproduct of combustion. But, also produced is smoke. In this smoke are many of the same chemicals and particles in cigarette smoke. These are aerosolized and easily inhaled.
When inhaling this smoke day after day after day, it can damage the lungs. So, studies of women in third world or developing nations show high incidences of COPD. It’s not caused by cigarette smoking in these cases, as they rarely smoke. But, they do spend their days cooking over wood stoves. They also use wood and coal to stay warm.4
Not everyone who cooks over wood stoves will develop COPD. Smoke usually goes up, and people try to avoid it. So, it’s rare that you can develop COPD from campfires and things like that. Researchers believe burning biomass in poorly ventilated areas is what is likely to cause COPD.
Cigar and pipe smoke
You may be inhaling less smoke. But, you are indeed inhaling smoke. And, this smoke is formed by combustion of biomass. So, both of these may also cause COPD. We should also include marijuana here. Marijuana is shown to open airways. But, the risks may, in this case, be greater than the benefits. Some studies show that your risk for developing COPD if you smoke marijuana daily is the same as if you inhale tobacco smoke daily.Outdoor air pollutionYes, you can develop COPD even if not exposed to smoke. Early studies seem to indicate that you can get it by inhaling outdoor air pollution. When this occurs, it is definitely done naturally. You just happen to inhale the polluted air. You do it unknowingly. You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. It’s just there. It’s probably more likely to cause COPD in populated areas. But, this is only a theory. Studies are ongoing to learn more about the impact of outdoor air pollution on COPD. Further studies may prove this theory false too.Indoor air pollutionSay you work in a factory. You are inhaling dusts or fumes every day. The dust contains harmful particles. The fumes contain harmful chemicals. Both may cause changes inside your lungs. Both may cause COPD.GeneticsThere is a particular gene that may cause COPD. It’s called the alpha-1 antitrypsin gene. If you have it, you may develop COPD even if you never smoked.
Which of the following best describes your COPD diagnosis?