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I was told 3 years ago I had COPD. I don’t smoke so how did I get this? I am 46 years old plus I have biploar with anxiety too.

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  • EllenJaneLockhart
    3 years ago

    Hi I just became a member on this fantastic site. I have been diagnosed with COPD. I don’t know anyone personally to ask questions. I saw this site and have done so much reading. After seeing a Doctor that is a respirologist as of 2 weeks ago I had the 6 minute walk test. That was tge test that confirmed I need oxygen to use on was such a shock but now after 2 weeks I must say I have had time to digest this and I don’t really need the oxygen that much. Maybe at this point 2 hrs a day when going up and Dow stairs for example. With you being an non smoker it would make me wonder as well. I was a smoker but gave that habit up 6 years ago. I hope you are doing ok.

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Stormylynne,

    Thank you for the question – it’s an excellent one. It’s estimated that 85 to 90% of COPD is caused by smoking; so apparently you fall into that unique group of others.

    While I can’t say for certain since I don’t know your history and we can’t give medical advice in this setting for your own safety, I can tell you some of the other known causes of COPD.

    1. Second-hand smoke – this is a big one. If you’ve ever lived with someone that smoked or worked in a job that allowed people to smoke, that could have been a factor.

    2. Pollution and/or toxic fumes – again, perhaps you lived in an area, maybe a big city where pollution was out of control or worked at a profession that exposed you to fumes or chemicals of some kind. Inhaled toxins of this nature are another cause of COPD.

    3. Your genes – this is a rare cause, but it does happen. There is a rare form of COPD called Alpha 1 Antitrypsin deficiency (AAT). This is an inherited condition and effects an estimated 100,000 people in the US (according to the Alpha 1 center). In fact, we encourage any person that has had a diagnosis of COPD to be tested, if nothing else, to rule this cause out.

    I hope this helped some. It can scary and confusing when you don’t know how you got COPD. But, I hope you’re finding a lot of helpful information on this site. Please feel free to participate as much as you’d like.

    Lyn (moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Stormylynne and welcome. I see that Lyn has provided you with some very helpful information regarding the causes of COPD that are not related to smoking.
    We have a wealth of information right here on I thought you might find it helpful to also read one of our published articles on the causes and risk factors of COPD (as a supplement to the information provided by Lyn):
    All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • Stormylynne author
    3 years ago

    Thank you for the information. It help me understand more

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