- World COPD Day 2019 is observed on 20 November
- COPD can cause difficulty in breathing
- Exposure to dust and smoke should be avoided as much as possible
World COPD Day 2019 falls on 20 November. Each year this day aims to raise awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and how to improve COPD care throughout the world. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung condition which restricts the airflow from the lungs and causes difficulty in breathing. The theme for this year's World COPD Day is "All Together to End COPD." COPD can have complications like respiratory infections, increased risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure, depression and even lung cancer.
Dr. Inder Mohan Chugh explains, "COPD cases have increased dramatically in the past few years. A person suffering from breathlessness should not ignore this sign for too long. Most people consider breathlessness and coughing normal or a sign of ageing but it is a red flag for COPD. COPD is an umbrella term for lung diseases which can develop in the human body for years without any noticeable symptom (shortness of breath is the most common). This disease causes an obstruction in airflow into and out of the lungs which majorly makes breathing difficult."
COPD and winter: Can the winter season worsen COPD?
Cold weather is considered harmful for patients with COPD. Dr. Chugh further explains, "COPD is most prominent in winter. During the cold weather, people with COPD are more prone to illness. A drop in temperature affects the lungs negatively and chronic exposure to cold environments is known to cause dramatic and harmful changes to the respiratory system.
With the onset of winter, blood vessels begin to narrow, restricting blood flow and depriving the heart of oxygen. It is the leading cause of cold-related mortality among the elderly. Even genes play a big role in an individual's development of COPD. Hence, it is important that one visits a specialist immediately in case there is a single symptom indicating COPD. A simple spirometry (Pulmonary Function Test) test taken on time could save lives."
How to manage COPD in winter?
During the winter season, you need to follow some precautions to fight the cold weather. You should cover your face before you go out. You should also prevent infections as much as possible, stay away from people with flu, cold or cough. Also, reduce your exposure to smoke. Also, try to drink more water throughout the day.
Exposure to dust, chemicals, fumes, chemical vapours and tobacco smoke trigger the condition. You should avoid such exposures as much as possible. If your workplace involves exposure to these wear a mask or use respiratory protective equipment.
(Dr. Inder Mohan Chugh, Director, Interventional Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi)
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