World COPD Day: Breathlessness & Wheezing could be signs of chronic lung disease, says Dr Zafar Iqbal2 min read
Chandigarh, November 16, 2022: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, commonly referred to as COPD, is a disease that obstructs airflow from the lungs. Though the disease is easily treatable, awareness level about the health condition is comparatively low. To spread awareness on the disease, World COPD Day is observed on 16th November every year. The theme of this year’s event is “Your Lungs for Life.” Dr. Zafar Ahmad Iqbal, Director, Pulmonology, Critical Care and Sleep Studies, Fortis Hospital Mohali, in an advisory explains the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for COPD.
What is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is caused when the lungs become inflamed and narrowed due to airway and/or alveolar abnormalities caused by significant exposure to obnoxious particles and gases. This causes difficulty in breathing. “The disease is associated with significant concomitant chronic diseases which increase morbidity and mortality. This is punctuated by periods of worsening called attacks or exacerbation,” added Dr Zafar.
The disease is characterized by persistent respiratory symptoms such as cough expectoration, breathlessness etc. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, nausea, lack of energy, unintended weight loss and swelling in ankles, feet or legs. Stating that the disease is diagnosed through clinical examination and confirmed by spirometry test, Dr Zafar, said, “Symptoms of COPD require immediate medical intervention and should not be ignored.”
The main risk factor that causes COPD is smoking. Other factors include biomass fuel exposure, air pollution, genetic abnormalities, poor lung growth and accelerated ageing.
Treatment options include abstaining from smoking, exposure, overmedication etc. “The medication is given mainly through bronchodilator inhalers to avoid systemic adverse effects. Even though currently there is no cure for COPD, the disease can be prevented. Without appropriate treatment, the disease can progress and further cause respiratory and cardiac failure, requiring prolonged oxygen and BiPAP support (a machine that helps a person with COPD to breathe),” added Dr Zafar.