According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the biggest risk factor of COPD is smoking, with 80% of COPD deaths being smoking-related. You could also develop COPD as an adult if you smoked in your childhood or teenage years. However, up to 25% of COPD cases are nonsmokers.

Cleveland Clinic says that there are other risk factors involved with COPD. If you’re female, over 65, exposed to heavy air pollution, or work in an environment that has heavy dust or chemicals, these could increase your risk for developing COPD. Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) is a protein that protects harmful substances like pollutants from creating inflammation in your lungs. If you’re deficient in this protein, you could also develop COPD. You might also be at risk for COPD if you had a lot of respiratory infections as a child.

Spirometry tests your lung function by determining the force of your exhale, according to Temple Health. Your doctor might also test your lungs by having you walk for six minutes or test to see if you have an AAT deficiency.

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