Breakdown of the term
Let’s first breakdown the term, CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE (COPD) and understand what each word refers to.
- Chronic: a disease that would last for long and doesn’t fade away
- Obstructive: partial obstruction of the flow of air from the lungs
- Pulmonary: The medical term referring lungs
- Disease: A health issue
What is a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?
CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE or COPD, as it is popularly known, is a blanket term denoting the lung related breathing ailments like Emphysema, Chronic bronchitis, and Asthma. COPD causes difficulty in breathing. A Long term disease, COPD, progresses over time and generally affects people falling under the age group 40+.
Characteristics of COPD
The below characterize COPD in a person,
- Inflammation in the Air pipe
- Severe limitation of airflow in the lungs while inhaling and exhaling
Symptoms of COPD
If a patient faces any of the following symptoms he/she should consult a physician immediately.
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in Chest
- On-going cough along with mucus
- Lips or fingernail beds turning blue
- Recurrent infections in respiration and respiratory tract
- In-sufficient stamina
- Weight loss
- A bulge in ankles, feet or legs
Causes for COPD
Unlike other breathing diseases, COPD is not inherited by birth. So it is possible to take necessary precautions and safeguard yourselves. The following are the major factors that cause COPD
Smoking is a major factor that causes COPD. First-hand, second-hand and third-hand smoking all cause COPD. First-hand smoking is where smokers directly inhale the smoke. Second-hand smoking is when a person is breathing in the smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, beedi, cigar, and pipe or the smoke that is exhaled by the smoker. Third-hand smoking occurs when a person breathes in the invisible tobacco dust with chemicals that stay in the environment even after a cigarette has been snuffed out by a smoker.
Air pollution causes serious health-related ailments to people across the world. Air pollution menace affects children, the elderly, animals, birds, and plants. Increase in vehicles, unscientific methods of garbage disposal, lack of recycling and reusing, absence of strict legislation result in increased Air pollution. After smoking, Air pollution turns out to be the major factor causing COPD.
Dust or workplace fumes
Industries like Cement, sand, mining, coal, chemical, etc. discharge a large amount of dust and fumes during the process of manufacture. The workers exposed to harmful industrial dust and fumes for long get lung-related ailments like COPD.
Exposure to cooking stove smokes
Although situations are now changing, there a lot of house-wives in India who still cook using smoke emanating stoves that use wood as fuel. Some ovens are used in bakeries and barbecues discharge smoke and fumes in a large amount. This also causes COPD
Exposure to Biomass
Biomass is the use of plant and animal material to generate energy. Animal dungs, plant waste are used in various industries as raw material and the smoke discharged by the process also contributes to COPD ailment.
Genetics, in rare cases
Though not always, rarely COPD may occur due to genetics. Genetics causes COPD very rarely compared to other factors.
Usually, when a patient consults a physician, he is advised to undergo a test using the spirometer. The functionality of the lungs is measured using the spirometer and the doctor finds if the patient is affected by COPD by conducting some more tests and diagnostic procedures.
Treatments and Preventive measures
COPD cannot be cured but treatments and preventive measures help you to manage it better. Following are the treatments that help you to manage your COPD condition in a better way
- As seen early, smoking is a major cause of COPD. So don’t smoke and if you are smoking, quit it now.
- Use masks when exposed to Air pollution
- Keep your environment clean
- Consult a pulmonologist and intake the medications as per his prescription
- Use a stove or oven that uses smokeless fuel
- Have a positive attitude and make necessary lifestyle changes
Though COPD is not curable don’t worry about it. If you change your lifestyle and attitude positively you can manage COPD effectively. Good luck!