If a brisk walk makes you feel shortness of breath, consult a doctor as this could be a symptom of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Doctors in the city say adults are increasingly becoming susceptible to COPD, which is a major cause of concern for urban people many of whom are not aware about their weakening lungs. Pulmonologists suggest that the incurable condition which decreases the volume of the lung affects more than 30 per cent population in the city.
They warned that the condition is not, however, rare in adolescents too. According to a study, over 50 per cent COPD patients are unaware of their condition which can also lead to lung disorders.
Dr Himadri Mukherjee, a city based physician, said: “The symptoms of COPD are chronic cough, mucous formation, emergence when coughing, shortness of breath and increased sputum production. The shortness of breath may get worse while exercising. In severe situations even when performing simple activities like walking or climbing up stairs may cause the patient to heave and lose breath.”
He also added that many of us ignore these thinking that this could an effect of lack of physical activities. But in many of such cases it was found that the patients were suffering from COPD.
There is a sharp rise in the number of COPD cases in West Bengal recently.
A recent survey conducted by the Indian Study on the Epidemiology of Asthma, Respiratory Symptoms and Chronic Bronchitis in Adults (INSEARECH) in 23 sites in India, reveals that the overall prevalence of chronic bronchitis in adults is 3.49 per cent.
Dr Anshuman Mukherjee, senior consultant pulmonologist in the city, said: “According to a latest report around 12 per cent of the whole male population in West Bengal is affected with COPD, whereas the figure is anything between 5-7 per cent in case of female.”
Common casual factors of COPD are pollution and fumes inhaled in copious amounts, genetic transmission of the disorder and asthma. But the primary reason is smoking, active or passive inhalation of tobacco smoke or any other form of smoke. These risk factors cause severe inflammation in the lungs and airways, causing mucous production leading to the blockage of airways. The doctors suggest wearing masks to those who are more exposed to the air pollution in the streets.
“COPD patients take longer time to breathe in and breathe out. If the patients are not treated, there will be high carbon dioxide levels in the blood which will eventually lead to critical health issues. COPD is a progressive disease and it is not completely curable. Patients however check the progress of COPD by restricting themselves from being exposed to the risk factors,” Dr Anshuman Mukherjee said, adding it was crucial to identify the symptoms in the early stage as there is no permanent cure for COPD.
Throughout the span of suffering from the disease, one needs to rely on identification of the signals.