Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties. COPD includes a number of lung diseases like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma and some forms of bronchiectasis -all considered to be fatal.
An individual gets COPD when the lungs become inflamed, damaged and narrowed.
It is said that over 300 million individuals are living with COPD worldwide and around 3 million new cases are reported around the globe every year, out of which more than 20 percent cases are from India.
This condition mainly affects middle-aged or older adults who smoke, but genetics can play a role in an individual’s development of COPD.
What are the symptoms of COPD?
Symptoms of COPD can be mild at the start, making you to assume them as a cold. Symptoms of COPD may include:
- Shortness of breath, especially after exercise
- Chronic cough with or without mucus
- Needing to clear your throat often, particularly first thing in the morning
- Chest discomfort
- Frequent colds, flu, or other respiratory infections
As COPD typically worsens over time, walking up stairs or carrying things will be difficult. In the later stages of COPD, the following symptoms may develop:
- Swelling of the feet, ankles and legs
- Weight loss
What causes COPD?
The main cause of COPD is smoking although it can sometimes affect individuals who have never smoked or have ever been exposed to strong lung irritants. Other factors that play a role in an individual's development of COPD include - fumes, chemicals and dust found in many work environments.
Is there a cure for COPD? How to prevent it!
Unfortunately, there's no cure for COPD, but treatment may help ease the symptoms and lower the chance of complications. You can prevent yourself getting the condition by reducing exposure to risk factors, including taking a number of measures such as – not smoking, avoiding second smoke and chemical fumes, improving indoor and outdoor air quality.
November is celebrated as Lung Health Awareness month and the World COPD Day is observed every year on the third Wednesday in the same month to raise awareness about the symptoms, risk factors and treatment for COPD. This year, COPD day was celebrated on November 16.