Smokers, beware of COPD

Smokers are at an increased risk of developing COPD
Last Updated 24 December 2018, 19:30 IST

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition in which the air tubes responsible for carrying air in and out of the lungs are blocked. Due to the blockage, the tubes become narrower, thereby negatively affecting the capacity of these tubes. In patients suffering from COPD, there is a feeling of tightened chest and difficulty in breathing.

If the following symptoms begin to appear in a patient, it is advisable to visit a medical professional and have yourself tested to rule out a condition of COPD: prolonged respiratory infections, wheezing, shortness of breath, tightening in the chest, sudden weight loss, swollen ankles or legs, low on energy.

Cause & effect

One of the major causes of COPD is tobacco consumption. Research suggests that about 20-30% of smokers risk contracting COPD symptoms. Some of the causes of COPD are emphysema and bronchitis, increased exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, smoking habit in patients suffering from asthma, hereditary conditions, and occupational exposure to polluted air. If COPD is not detected and treated at an early stage, it could lead to advanced complications like lung cancer, chronic respiratory infections, heart problems, high blood pressure, hypertension and depression.

Since majority cases of COPD are seen in smokers, the best plan to keep away from the condition is to avoid smoking and to stay away from heavy smokers in order to stay safe from passive smoking. If your occupation calls for exposure to any kind of harmful fuel smoke, protective respiratory gear should be used in order to stay away from contracting any infections that may lead to a chronic condition of COPD.

Please note that early detection of COPD goes a long way in treating the condition.

(The author is consultant, pulmonology, Columbia Asia Hospital)

(Published 24 December 2018, 19:30 IST)

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