Mangaluru: COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. ( Chronic- It wont go away, Obstructive – blocking, Pulmonary – in lungs, Disease – Sickness) COPD is a disease of the lungs and wind pipes which causes difficulty in breathing due to blocking of wind pipes & damage to the lungs. COPD is a permanent and irreversible disease.
According to WHO, Worldwide, 1 in 10 adults over 40 years of age may have COPD. It is more in places where smoking is common. Worldwide, it is fourth leading cause of death with 30 lakh people dying of COPD every year. It is estimated to become 3rd leading cause of death by 2030. In India, 2 to 20% people were found to be suffering from COPD as per research. COPD is a common disease but it is under- recognised and under- treated. Upto one half of people suffering from COPD dont know about their disease.
Therefore, to create awareness about COPD and provide improved care to COPD patients, World COPD Day ( WCD ) is observed every year in November. This year is the 14th annual WCD on 18th November 2015. It was initiated and is organised by GOLD ( Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Diseases ), an international body involved in the treatment of COPD patients, in collaboration with WHO and other health organisations.
Every year there is a theme on World COPD Day. This years theme is “Its Not Too Late”. The most important common cause for COPD is cigarette smoking. This includes passive/ second hand smoking. Other causes are exposure to fumes or smoke at home (eg. cooking using firewood) or chemicals at workplace, living in dusty places and outdoor pollution.
COPD usually occurs after 40 years of age. It affects men and women equally. Their symptoms are persistent cough, phlegm or sputum production and difficulty in breathing. COPD usually progresses and becomes worse over time, if not appropriately treated . This progression is even faster and leads to early death if the patient continues to live with smoke and pollution. Along with the lung, COPD also affects other systems of the body. It can cause heart problems, increased Blood Pressure, weak bones, Depression or Anxiety disorder, weight loss and Diabetes.
Early detection of COPD and its timely treatment will help in living a healthier and more productive life. If you are over 40 years of age, have persistent cough, sputum production or difficulty in breathing, consult a lung specialist early. Doctor will do a lung function test for you. This test is the best, simple, fast and painless way to know whether you are suffering from COPD. Some of the other tests the doctor may recommend are X- ray of the chest and blood tests. Although there is no cure for COPD, doctors can help you feel better and slow the damage to your lungs. The earlier it is recognised, the better are the chances to prevent further damage to lungs.
Treatments are available to help people at all stages of disease to feel better and live a more active life. “Its Not Too Late” to get help. Measures can be taken to slow or delay COPD progression. To stop smoking is the best way to stop its further progression. “Its Not Too Late” to Stop Smoking. Those who have COPD should take proper medicines, keep air clean at home, do regular mild exercise as per doctors advice, eat healthy food and take precautions against outdoor pollution.
But, Prevention is always better than Cure. COPD can be prevented. “No Smoking” is the best preventive measure. I would request all people especially young generation to never start smoking. Other preventive measures are healthy food and regular exercise. Use of proper fuel for cooking at home and reducing indoor air pollution are also important preventive measures. At the workplace, maintain a clean and healthy environment and reduce exposure to smoke and chemicals to prevent COPD.
“Its Not Too Late”. Let’s make it a “Smoke Free Environment”.
About the Author:
Dr Alka C Bhat is a Pulmonologist- also a Specialist in Allergy and Asthma, COPD and other Lung Diseases; Consultant Pulmonologist, A.J. Hospital, Mangaluru.; Consultant Pulmonologist, Unity Hospital, Mangaluru; and Secretary, Mangaluru Chest Association.