Give Up Smoking, Stay Away from Frightful Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

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If you have a penchant for smoking, it’s time to give up. According to the doctors at the Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS-Bhubaneswar), 80-90 percent of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients have had a history of smoking in developing countries such as India.

COPD is usually associated with symptoms such as breathlessness which increases on exertion, cough with or without expectoration, chest tightness and wheezing. Other associated symptoms could show up in the form of fatigue, weight loss, swelling of the legs etc.

The cure lies in quitting smoking, said Dr Saswat Subhankar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pulmonology at KIMS. COPD is seen in patients above the age of 40 years and the prevalence increases with age. It is more common in men than women though recent studies have found a similar prevalence in both sexes in many countries.

“Overall, the prevalence rate of COPD among the population aged 30 years and above was 7 percent. Risk factors like active and passive smoking, biomass fuel exposure, environmental tobacco smoke, occupational exposure to dust, indoor and outdoor pollution, and increasing age are reported to have a significant association with COPD among the Indian population”, he said.

Smoking cessation plays a crucial role in altering the natural history and progression of COPD, he said. Across the world, COPD Day was observed on November 16 with renewed pledge and encouragement to eschew smoking and maintain and sustain a clean and pollution-free environment.

The diagnosis of COPD is based on a proper clinical history and physical examination, and spirometry. The latter is a test in which the patient is asked to breathe into a tube attached to a device called a “spirometer”. A chest X-ray may be useful in ruling out an alternate diagnosis or the presence of any complication, said Associate Professor, Respiratory Medicine, Dr Amrut Kumar Mohapatra.

KIMS offers advanced treatment with the assistance of state-of-art equipment and a team of specialists that can help a patient overcome the disease with confidence.

Bronchodilators are the most important medications in the treatment of COPD that improve the smooth muscle tone and dilate the airways, Dr Subhankar said. They are provided as inhalers. Long-acting agents are commonly used. Other than bronchodilators, several other classes of drugs like methylxanthines, corticosteroids (inhaled or oral), mucolytics etc. are also available but are used as add-ons.

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