Air Pollution as a cause of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Do you know someone who has been suffering from a long time cough and has breathing problems? If yes, then advice them to consult a doctor as there is a high probability that they might be suffering from COPD.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease(COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that leads to obstruction of airflow from lungs to the other parts of the body. It is caused by irritating gases and particulate matter in the air and can lead to other severe conditions such as lung cancer, severe emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

How air pollution contributes to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

Air pollution has been a major environmental issue and a serious concern for public health in the entire country particularly in Bangalore where motor vehicle traffic and industrialization has increased rapidly. Globally, COPD is the third leading cause of mortality. The number of COPD patients reached a record of 7.3 Billion in 2015 which is huge.

Our lungs fail to survive the harshness of increasing pollution. Lungs contain tiny sacs called alveoli which help the body to pass on the oxygen from the air inhaled, into the bloodstream and also helps in pushing out the stale air out of the lungs. But the lungs of a person suffering from COPD are not able to perform that function. The stale air hence remains inside the body leading to damage to the alveoli and the airways get swollen and clogged with mucus.

Symptoms

-Sputum filled cough
-Chest tightness
-Excessive mucus in the morning
-Wheezing
-General body fatigue

These symptoms are not noticeable until the damage is done. It may be years before you start to notice the signs. So, when you get the slightest hint of these symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.

What are the causes of COPD?

The main cause of COPD is tobacco smoking. Passive smoking is equally dangerous. If you are not a smoker, you can get COPD from living with one. In developing countries like India where the amount of particulate matter/pollutants in the air is significantly high, the root cause of COPD is the pollution. Asthma and cigarette smoking is a deadly combination. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory airway disease. A cigarette smoker with Asthma has a higher risk of developing this disease.

Prevention & Cure

Although there is no permanent treatment for COPD, there are a few methods to ease the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

  • There are various nebulizers which are used to administer Bronchodilators. Bronchodilators are medications that help to relax your airway muscles, widen the airway and make it easy for you to breathe. Seek physicians’ advice before starting the medicines.
  • Cover your face with a mask when going out. Though a mask doesn’t provide adequate protection from minute particles, it still helps remove bigger size particulate matter in the air.

A few lifestyle changes can help you alleviate the symptoms or get relief. Quit smoking and avoid passive smoking to protect your family members from its consequences. Get healthy diet plan from your dietitian to get the nutrition that your body needs to fight the disease. Practice meditation to fortify your mind and develop a positive attitude towards life.

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