Breathe Easy, this World COPD Day

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November 17th, World COPD Day is observed to raise awareness about the chronic inflammatory lung condition and make sure that COPD sufferers, or people who could potentially suffer from COPD, have access to the care and information that they need to manage their condition well.

COPD referred as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is of two types:

1) Chronic Bronchitis

2) Emphysema

Chronic Bronchitis is characterised by cough with expectoration of sputum for 3 months in a year for 2 consecutive years.

Emphysema is characterised by progressive shortness of breath. The disease is chiefly caused by tobacco smoking, biomass fuel inhalation, environmental pollution and genetic progenity. It is an irreversible and progressive disease. It is diagnosed by pulmonary function test. The main aim of the treatment of COPD is to alleviate the symptoms and improve the quality of life. The treatment comprises using antibiotics, bronchodilators, steroids in severe disease and pulmonary rehabilitation. Exacerbations of COPD can be reduced by pneumococcal vaccine. Prevention of COPD includes quitting tobacco smoking and avoid biomass fuel exposure

Tips to manage COPD symptoms in cold weather:

· Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf or mask when you go outside.

· Breathe through your nose to help warm air enter your lungs.

· Wear appropriate clothing. Keep your body warm and comfortable by wearing layers of clothes that allow you to adjust to the temperature.

· If you use oxygen support, keep your tubing under your coat or clothing to help keep the air as warm as possible.

· If the weather is bad, consider changing your schedule to avoid going out.

· When indoor, don’t use fireplaces. The wood can cause smoke build-up which can also aggravate COPD symptoms.

· If you’re planning to travel this winter or if you’ll be staying outdoors for an extended period of time, remember to cover your nose and mouth with a scarf and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. This technique helps warm the air before it reaches your airways. Your clinician may also recommend that you wear a mask outdoors, such as a CT Mask, that’s specifically designed for people living with COPD or asthma.

· Get Your Annual Flu Shot: Experts agree that one of the most effective ways to protect your lungs against the colder temperatures is staying current on your flu vaccines. As COPD patients are more likely to contract pneumonia, skipping your annual flu shot may put you at a higher risk of developing this or another lower respiratory infection.

· Avoid strenuous outdoor activities: When the temperature dips, it’s better to stay indoors and avoid going outdoors. Performing any type of strenuous activities (i.e. shovelling snow, jogging, skiing, etc.) can put your lungs at risk of exposure to dry air and cause you to experience a flare-up of symptoms.

“COPD can be prevented by refraining from tobacco smoking and avoiding biomass fuel exposure. The disease can also be kept under control by compliance to medication and pneumococcal vaccination” says Dr E Ravinder Reddy, Senior Pulmonologist, Kamineni Hospital, Hyderabad.

The observation of World COPD Day is to raise awareness and disclose COPD as an important cause of morbidity and mortality. Additionally, patients with newly-diagnosed COPD need appropriate guidance.

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