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COPD and genetics, what do I need to know?


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is a lung disease characterized by a permanent obstruction of the airways that makes it difficult for air to pass through the bronchi, worsening over the years, due to inflammation. Although smoking is the most important risk factor, genetics has an important influence.

Some people are more prone than others to develop COPD, in fact susceptibility is determined by genetics. With a DNA health test it is possible to know if a person has genetic risks and, consequently, to advise him/her to stop smoking to avoid the appearance of COPD. However, it is a disease that can be prevented by giving up smoking.

epoc y genetica

It is estimated that between 20 and 25% of smokers develop COPD, although cases have also been reported in non-smokers. Among the causes of the latter is being a passive smoker, that is, breathing air contaminated by tobacco smoke. It is therefore a disease that derives from the sum of genetic predisposition and environmental factors.

Smoking contributes to 95% of COPD cases, being the most prevalent risk factor. However, the genetics of COPD play an important role in the susceptibility of each individual. Several studies link certain genes to the development of COPD. A person who undergoes a genetic test and has a higher prevalence of COPD should stop smoking as soon as possible or be less exposed to tobacco smoke.

epoc genetica

COPD is a progressive disease, so early diagnosis is key to controlling its development. Initially, symptoms may only be noticed during physical exertion, but as the disease progresses, symptoms may be noticed even at rest, requiring an additional source of oxygen in some cases.

Symptoms may include cough, fatigue, respiratory infections, dyspnea (shortness of breath), wheezing, persistent respiratory symptoms and airflow limitation. You are also more likely to get sick with the flu or colds quite often. However, not everyone who has these symptoms necessarily has COPD.

To date there is no cure for this disease, but there are treatments to alleviate the symptoms and slow down the development of the disease. The first step has to be to stop smoking, if you have difficulties you can go to your family doctor to give you some guidelines and help you. Bronchodilators administered by means of inhalers are used as the main treatment. In more severe cases, oxygen therapy is used, i.e. external administration of oxygen to the body.

Nicotine addiction is a worldwide problem. Giving up certain habits is very difficult for some people. Through a genetic test you can obtain a lot of information such as your predisposition to be more addicted to nicotine or to develop COPD. In any case, the best thing to do is to adopt healthy lifestyle habits and avoid those harmful agents that damage our health and that of the people around us.