Respiratory distress is one of the major concerns of today’s healthcare. Considering the fact that including unhealthy lifestyle, environmental factors play a key role in causing these diseases massive changes at many levels are expected to be introduced. From smoking by choice to unknowingly getting exposed to polluted air, the action plan needs to have a diverse approach. WHO confirms that Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death worldwide, causing 3.23 million deaths in 2019, at the same WHO states that over 80% of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Meta-analysis of facts about COPD and Asthma somehow reflect the severity of the diseases and the worsening condition of the world. In order to deal with the diseases, one needs to be well informed about the causes and remedies of the diseases:-
What is COPD?
COPD is a progressive lung disease in which chronic inflammation potentially leads to the damage of lungs, as a result, it presents in the symptoms like shortness of breath, severe cough etc. emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common types of COPD seen among patients, and in many cases, patients suffer both types. It is noteworthy to mention that COPD is an irreversible disease. A COPD patient can feel unnecessary tiredness or fatigue all the time.
Symptoms of COPD:-
- Shortness of breath
- With or without mucus coughing
- Unnecessary tiredness or fatigue
- The compromised capacity of the lungs
The prevalent symptoms may worsen with the worsening condition of the patient.
Causes of COPD:-
- Smoking:- Smoking is dangerous for overall health, it causes COPD as well. Chain smokers are highly at risk of catching COPD. Smoking is considered to be one of the leading causes of the occurrence of COPD. It is also unfortunate that because of smokers around passive smokers are also at the risk of COPD. Especially children should be taken more care of in this regard.
- Air pollution:- this is one of the major reasons adding to the respiratory distress in the entire world. We have no idea the toxic elements present in the environment are unknowingly damaging our lungs and posing risk to our overall wellbeing. Here it is worth mentioning that people who are conscious about their health are also exposed to it, which is very unfortunate. It surely needs to be dealt with at a broader level. It needs an inclusive approach.
- Poor lung growth:– respiratory issues at birth or problems occurred to the lungs while growing lead to the
- Pollution at work:- Exposure to occupational pollution, means people who work in factories or other industrial plants where they are exposed to toxic gases are prone to the risk of catching COPD.
- Family history:– family history of COPD can also be a key factor of its occurrence. Hence keep an eye on your family history of diseases and maintain your lifestyle accordingly.
Considering the causes mentioned above we really need to think about the life pattern we are following, because people with healthy habits are also at the risk of COPD because of other people’s idea of development. We need to rethink our ideas of development which comes at the risk of health and wellbeing.
Difference between Asthma and COPD?
Generally, COPD is mistakenly confused with Asthma. Although both are respiratory diseases and can be equally severe for patients, and both have almost similar initial symptoms and discomforts like breathlessness, coughing, fatigue, congestion in the chest. But COPD majorly develops almost after 40 years of age while asthma can occur at any stage. Also, the major difference in both diseases is that COPD is irreversible while asthma can be cured and COPD is a progressive disease while Asthma occurs due to allergic reactions.
Treatment of COPD:-
Although COPD is irreversible at the same time early intervention is the key to improve the quality of life. For the diagnosis purpose as per the recurrent symptoms the COPD is diagnosed, there is no particular test that confirms its existence. The patient’s history of smoking, pollutant jobs are checked and some respiratory check-ups like CT-Scan, Chest X-rays and blood analysis are done.
As far as the treatment is concerned once the COPD is confirmed the type of treatment is decided as per the severity of the disease. It may include surgery, regular medicines, oxygen therapy etc. the advanced stage of COPD may lead to a hospital stay as well.
Prevention from COPD:-
Quit smoking:- many studies confirm that mere quitting smoking potentially leaves a significant difference to the lungs and overall wellbeing of a person. Hence leave this habit today and witness the noteworthy difference.
Reduce chemical exposure:- especially when you are already at a higher risk of catching respiratory diseases then one must avoid such jobs and environment. Ensure your full safety at work with masks and other defensive techniques etc.
Workout:- apart from building muscles exercising daily is much needed for the proper functioning of the lungs. Add a set of exercise to your daily life and save your lungs.
Healthy lifestyle:- nothing can be more effective in reducing the risk of diseases than a proper healthy lifestyle. Follow a set of exercises daily, take good nutritious food, keep your water intake high and maintain your sleep cycle.
Routine check-ups:- as mentioned above family history of diseases can add to the risk of suffering from a number of diseases. Hence timely check-ups can help in early diagnosis and reduce the risk; also routine check-ups can help in catching any developing diseases at early stage.
Take extra care of children in regards to the above.
This article is authored by Dr. Nitin Rathi, Senior Consultant – Pulmonology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi