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Having a low level of the AAT protein can lead to lung damage and COPD if you are exposed to smoke or other lung irritants.
If you have alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and also smoke, COPD can worsen very quickly. Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways.
COPD can cause coughing that produces large amounts of a slimy substance called mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms. Long-term exposure to other lung irritants—such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dusts—also may contribute to COPD.
A rare genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency can also cause the disease.
This process, called gas exchange, brings in oxygen for the body to use for vital functions and removes the CO2. When you breathe in, each air sac fills up with air, like a small balloon.
Most people who have COPD have both emphysema and chronic bronchitis, but the severity of each condition varies from person to person. Outlook COPD is a major cause of disability, and it is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
Currently, 16 million people are diagnosed with COPD.
Most of the time, COPD is diagnosed in middle-aged or older adults.
The disease is not contagious, meaning it cannot be passed from person to person.