Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) | Updated 2023
This post would be our contribution to World COPD Day 2019. Do you know how many people around the world suffer from this disease? Rough estimates suggest that there are 30 million patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in India. The growing percentage of mortality from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the highest in our country. On this World COPD Day, let’s raise awareness about this condition, its symptoms, causes and effects.
- In India there are 30 million patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- More than 65 million people around the world suffer from moderate or severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- COPD accounted for 7% of deaths in India.
- About 90% of COPD cases are related to SMOKING.
What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?
COPD or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung disease that makes breathing difficult by blocking the airways. The airways are inflamed and thickened, and the lung tissue involved in oxygen exchange can also be destroyed. The amount of air reaching the lungs is less, which means less oxygen is carried into the blood, which further means that the body’s cells receive less oxygen.
COPD is commonly referred to as a group of two lung diseases – emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of this disease are:
- Chronic cough
- Phlegm that accompanies the cough
- Shortness of breath, during exercise or even recreational activities
As the disease progresses, it becomes difficult for the patient to do even simple everyday tasks such as walking or dressing. Breathing requires much more effort and because of the extra energy lost in the process, the patient tends to become weak.
How does this disease affect the lungs?
The inflamed and narrowed airways of the lungs tend to collapse every time the patient exhales and also become clogged with mucus. This reduces the amount of air that can flow into the airways of the lungs. Inflammation of the airways sensitizes the nerves to respond with vigorous stimulation of the airway muscles. The strong contraction of the muscles is seen as a cough, which helps clear the phlegm from the lungs and propels it up towards the throat. (smoker’s cough).
In addition, this disease, through its two manifestations – emphysema and chronic bronchitis – affects the way the blood exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs.
- emphysema destroys alveoli (small sacs that allow oxygen to be transported into the blood). Instead of alveoli, large air pockets are formed, which do not fulfill the alveolar function, but also disrupt the adjacent normal lung tissue.
- Chronic bronchitis causes shortness of breath due to narrowed and mucous airways that cannot complete the oxygen transport. With each breath, less oxygen enters the blood, causing the patient to gasp for air.
What are its causes?
- tuxedo – The toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke lead to narrowing of the airways, swelling of the air tubes and destruction of the air sacs, along with reduced immunity of the lungs to fight infection. Smoking is the main cause of COPD in humans.
- air pollution – Fumes containing toxic air pollutants, dust, and even certain chemicals that a person may be exposed to at work can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- genetics – A small percentage of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease carry a genetic deficiency that produces low levels of a liver protein known as alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT). This protein is secreted into the blood, where it is known to protect the lungs. Alpha-1 deficiency affects both the liver and lungs. In the lungs, it causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
The effects of this disease become more severe as the disease progresses. While damage already done to the lungs may not be reversed, patients can work on some coping strategies to get comfortable and prevent further lung damage:
Also Read: 5 Superfoods for Your Healthy Lungs
For more information or free personal advice, please contact a Credihealth expert on +918010994994.