Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
By, Dr. Deepak Talwar
Chair & Director- Metro Centre for Pulmonology
& Sleep Medicine
Metro Hospitals & Heart Institute, Noida, UP
Every year, month of November is
observed as the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) awareness month
and November 19 is indicated as the World COPD day. It is a unique event which
aims to highlight the challenges of this chronic respiratory disease which is
faced by more than 200 million people worldwide and claims approximately 3
million deaths every year. COPD ranks at the number 6 position in causing death
and disability in low and middle income countries and is anticipated to become
the leading cause of death by 2030.
Since it’s first observation in
2002 by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, the World
COPD day seeks to spread awareness about the disease among public. COPD refers
to a group of progressive lung diseases that obstruct the passage of air and
makes it difficult to breathe. “Progressive” means the disease gets worsened
UNDERSTANDING THE MECHANISM
The air that you inhale travels
down your windpipe into the bronchial tubes or airways in your lungs. These bronchial
tubes get branched into thousands of smaller, thinner tubes called bronchioles
within the lungs. These tubes terminate with bunches of tiny round air sacs
Small blood vessels called
capillaries form a network over the walls of the alveoli. When air reaches the
alveoli, they inflate. Oxygen passes through them into the blood running inside
the capillaries. At the same time, carbon dioxide moves from the capillaries
into the air sacs causing them to deflate. This process is called gas exchange.
In COPD, less gas exchange is
there because of one or more of the following:
Loss of elasticity in airways and air sacs.
Destruction, thickening or inflammation of walls of the alveoli.
Clogging of the airways due to excessive production of mucus.
RISK FACTOR AND CAUSES
The risk of acquiring COPD
increases with age and is more common in people above the age of 45. Men and
women are equally affected by COPD worldwide. It is caused by damaging of the
lungs over many years, smoking (cigarettes, pipers, cigars, etc.) being the
Continuous exposure to other lung
irritants such as, outdoor air pollution (including emissions from motor
vehicles and industrial plants) and indoor air pollution (including tobacco
smoke, NO2, carbon monoxide, etc.) are associated with the
development of COPD. Particulate matter, especially PM10 and PM2.5, severely
deteriorates the air quality and when present in air in alarming levels can
easily trigger COPD as evidences have shown in the past.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
In the early stages of the
disease, the symptoms may not be easily noticeable. But as the disease draws up
to it’s advanced stages, the symptoms become more prominent. Thus, it is important that you see your doctor as soon as you become aware of any of these
symptoms. Your doctor may make you take a spirometry test which helps in
assessing how efficiently your lungs function by measuring how much air you
inhale and exhale and, how quickly you exhale.
The signs and symptoms of COPD
Recurrent coughing (with and without sputum)
Tightness in the chest
COPD remains incurable till now.
However, lifestyle changes and treatments can help you feel better and slow the
progress of the disease. A huge difference can be made by quitting smoking and
avoiding lung irritants. Your doctor may also suggest you to opt for physical
activity that can strengthen the muscles that help you breathe and perk up your
overall wellness. Your treatment may include:
Medicines like bronchodilators which cause relaxation of the muscles around
your airways, thereby, helping in opening up your airways and making breathing
Oxygen Therapy- Severe COPD decreases oxygen levels in your blood below normal.
Oxygen therapy can aid you in breathing properly.
Surgery- Only some people who have COPD gain from surgery. Surgery usually is
the last route for people who have severe symptoms that have not improved from
taking medicines. A lung transplant might be an alternative for people having
very severe COPD.
World COPD day is a unique
opportunity for all the members in our society to come together to educate
themselves as well as the world about this unvoiced epidemic. Afterall,
“Education is the most powerful
weapon we can use to change the world”.
For information and OPD
Appointments, Call: +91 99104 92867