Question: My mother has been diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) but she has never smoked. However, my dad is a heavy smoker. Is it unusual for a person to get COPD from a family member’s second-hand smoke?
Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
Secondhand smoke exposure can predispose people to COPD. This is an unfortunate and too common effect seen from a family member's smoking. Be sure your mother has been screened for emphysema (a form of COPD) in non-smokers.
Exposure to silicates, fine particulates like dirt or fiberglass particles, inhaled irritants, coal dust and polluted air can also cause COPD. In addition, untreated asthma can cause airway scarring and damage, that later in life may become COPD.
Be sure your mother has had a full pulmonary evaluation, including a lung function test with and without a bronchodilator, to be sure she has
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