Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, refers to several chronic, progressive lung diseases. An umbrella term that includes emphysema, refractory asthma, and chronic bronchitis, those with the inflammatory disease experience difficulty breathing, coughing, mucus production, chest tightness, and wheezing. Other symptoms may also manifest depending on the specific lung disease, such as exhaustion, fast heartbeat, and depression from emphysema. Below, learn more about COPD, including its effect on the immune system.

What Causes COPD?

Over 90% of individuals with the chronic inflammatory lung disease have it because of tobacco use. Smoking cigarettes involves inhaling over 4,000 chemicals that irritate and inflame the lungs, causing the body to send white blood cell-derived enzymes that kill lung tissue. Those exposed to chronic secondhand smoke increase their risk of COPD, as do individuals who smoke and have asthma.

COPDChronic exposure to byproducts from burning fuel, assorted chemicals, severe air pollution, and poor home heating ventilation also increase their risk. Genetic factors can play a role; however, most with the disease contract it because of smoking or related activities. Many individuals with the disease begin experiencing symptoms after the age of 40.

How Does it Impact Immunity?

COPD affects the immune system because it heightens lung inflammation. Chronic inflammation compromises immunity in lung disease patients and increases the risk of other diseases and conditions.

Those with the disease are more likely to experience respiratory infections such as colds and pneumonia, develop lung cancer, and have high blood pressure that causes pulmonary hypertension, or blood in the lungs. While the connection has not been established yet, the disease can cause heart problems such as heart attacks. 



If you believe you have COPD, make an appointment at Integrative Medicine of New York, PLLC. Serving Long Island, NY, this preventive and integrative medicine center focuses on natural treatments to boost patients’ health and wellness. Call (516) 759-4200 to schedule a consultation or visit the center online for more about lung disease treatments.