Effects of cigarette smoking & other causes of COPD

Understanding COPD & How Early Detection Helps

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease commonly referred to as COPD is a word not known to 99.15% of people even though it causes more deaths than AIDS, TB, Malaria and Diabetes combined. 

COPD often termed as the smoker’s disease and identified by a smoker’s cough, is a far bigger problem and needs our immediate attention. According to the 2016 Global Burden of Diseases study, India ranks second in the world, only after China, in terms of the total number of COPD cases but, when it comes to deaths due to COPD, India is known as the COPD capital of the world. 

It’s time we understand COPD better!

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow, making it difficult to breathe. It is an umbrella term given to a group of progressive lung diseases, the most common of them being emphysema and chronic bronchitis. 

Emphysema slowly destroys the air sacs obstructing the air passage with a gradual reduction in airflow and Chronic Bronchitis causes inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes, which allows mucus to build up making breathing a constant struggle. Most COPD patients often suffer from both of these conditions.

It’s time to know the symptoms of COPD better!

In the initial stages, COPD may show no signs or symptoms, or just mild ones, which get easily ignored. But as the disease progresses, the symptoms become increasingly severe. COPD tends to get under-diagnosed but is a life-threatening lung disease that may progressively lead to death. Hence, a preventive health check-up is a must even at the slightest onset of a COPD symptom. Check out some of the most common symptoms of COPD.

  • Shortness of breath that aggravates with physical activity
  • A persistent and recurrent cough which produces a lot of mucus
  • Wheezing or a whistling sound that occurs whenever you breathe
  • Chest tightness or feeling a constant heaviness on the chest

In advanced stages, COPD symptoms may also include:

· Frequent colds, flu, or other respiratory infections

· Lack of energy or constant fatigue

· Swelling of the feet, ankles, or legs

· Unwarranted weight loss

Effects of cigarette smoking & other causes of COPD

Cigarette smoking is by far the leading preventable cause of COPD. In the majority of people with COPD, long-term cigarette smoking is the cause of the lung damage that leads to COPD. Smoking tobacco, in the form of cigarettes, cigar, or pipe makes one susceptible to developing pulmonary diseases and in turn, can develop into COPD. Second-hand smoke is equally harmful as it exposes you to irritants and can give you COPD. 

The harmful effects of cigarette smoking and its impact on a person’s pulmonary health are known to everyone. However, smoking is not the only cause of COPD. About 25% of all COPD cases have no smoking history. Check out some of the other risk factors, to be blamed for an increasing number of COPD cases amongst non-smokers.

Air pollution & exposure to toxic fumes: The worsening air quality and exposure to toxic fumes from biomass fuel combustion increase the risk of developing COPD.

Occupational Hazards: Long-term exposure to industrial toxins, radioactive material and other chemical substances can also lead to pulmonary disorders like COPD.

COVID 19 & COPD

Severe COVID-19 infection is also a concern in patients with COPD. According to a 2020 survey report conducted amongst 140 people with COVID-19, having COPD does not make people more likely to contract the virus. However, if someone with severe COPD contracts the novel coronavirus, they may have a higher risk of COVID-19 complication, since the virus affects the respiratory system aggravating existing lung damage further, making it more difficult for the lungs to fight off an infection.  

Early detection helps manage COPD better!

COPD is a progressive disease with no cure. But if detected at an initial stage, it can be managed well, and one can also learn to live well with COPD. To control it better one needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle, quit smoking cigarettes, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, avoid chemical toxins, and actively adopt preventive health check-up as a part of their routine. 

Going for a preventive health check-up is the best way to detect COPD early and stop the symptoms from worsening. It allows you to take charge of your health and take necessary precautions to avoid the COPD triggers which can get life-threatening if left untreated for a long time. 

Early detection saves lives. Get yourself screened today!