Short of Breath? Here’s what you might be suffering from!

world copd day blog

The AQI (air quality index) of Delhi is highly toxic and the recent ‘Great Delhi Smog’ serves as an ample proof. But did you know that air pollution can make you vulnerable to COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)? Just taking up a house in a serene location, at a distance from the city centre does not ensure protection from pollution. In fact the long hours spend commuting up and down from home to office and vice versa especially during peak hours is leading to an incidence in COPD. Growing pollution levels in the urban areas has led to an alarming increase in occurrences of COPD in the fastest growing cities in India. It is emerging as one of the commonly detected respiratory disorders.

Going by the current trend the estimated prevalence of this disease is around 6.5 to 7.7 per cent. Age groups at highest risk of COPD are the middle aged and elderly. COPD can be avoided by smoking cessation, prevention of exposure to dust, occupational fumes and pollutants. Doctors are of the opinion that COPD cannot be cured completely, but it can be kept under control with proper medications. In fact improperly treated asthma can lead to COPD.

COPD is a disease of the airways of the lungs due to which the patient is unable to breathe properly. This leads to a limitation of the flow of air to and from the lungs causing shortness of breath. The symptoms of COPD include constant cough, sputum discharge, breathlessness, wheezing, swelling of feet etc. Smoking tobacco also is one of the main reasons for COPD. Indoor and outdoor pollution, exposure to occupational dusts and chemicals are the other risk factors for COPD.

This problem can be detected based on the patient’s medical history, physical examination, chest X-ray, and Spirometry. If not detected in time, COPD can also lead to other complications such as respiratory failure, cor pulmonale (enlargement of the right side of heart), heart failure and other added respiratory infection. Doctors feel that long hours of commuting especially during peak hours in a polluted environment is one of the main reasons for incurring this problem. In many patients of COPD it has been seen that they have beenspending long hours inhaling in the polluted atmosphere.

It seems long distance traveling in the city does pave the way for the beginning of COPD, so one has to be very careful of initial symptoms and needs to take utmost care to protect oneself from pollution.

Causes of COPD

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to pollution, dust
  • Chemical fumes

Symptoms of COPD

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Coughing up mucus/ phlegm
  • Difficulty in breathing during physical activity
  • Wheezing

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