On world Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) day today,PGI doctors say that people over 40 years who cough several times a day and get out of breath easily are at a risk of suffering from COPD.
The theme this year to observe the day is,Are you short of breath?.
COPD is a non-communicable lung disease that progressively robs sufferers of breath. As per the INSEARCH study of the Indian Council of Medical Research pioneered by the PGIMER,Chandigarh COPD accounts for a prevalence of over 4 per cent of adult population. However,recent studies indicate that 25 to 50 per cent of people with clinically significant COPD dont even know they have it. That is because the early stages of COPD are often unrecognised, Dr S K Jindal,head of the department of Pulmonary Medicine,PGIMER.
The early symptoms of COPD are chronic cough,bringing up sputum,and breathlessness during physical activity such as exercise or walking up a flight of stairs, says Dr S K Jindal. This is mostly common in those individuals who smoke. People might discount these symptoms as a normal part of getting old,but they can be signs of a serious disease which needs control and treatment, he added. A simple,painless breathing test,called spirometry,can help establish the diagnosis. Many national and international COPD guidelines,including those prepared by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD),identify spirometry as the gold standard for diagnosing COPD.
COPD occurs most often in patients who are over age 40 and who have a history of exposure to COPD risk factors. Other important risk factors include dusts and chemicals encountered on the job and smoke from biomass fuels (such as coal,wood,and animal dung) burned for cooking and heating in poorly ventilated dwellings.
The earlier COPD is detected,the more effective treatment can be, Dr Jindal emphasised.
Without treatment,however,COPD gets worse and patients become breathless during everyday activities such as climbing a flight of stairs,walking,or even getting washed and dressed in the morning.