If you are one of those who are increasingly getting bothered about leading an unhealthy lifestyle, quitting smoking is a great way to improve your quality of life. A single puff of a cigarette exposes the smoker to millions of free radicals. Besides the toxic habit can also increase your chances of getting lung cancer, blood cancers, chronic bronchitis, cardiac diseases and stroke.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), initially known as the smoker’s disease, has been on rise in India. But what is really concerning is that people who are not active smokers are also falling prey to it.
Dr Anshu Punjabi, Consultant-Pulmonologist & Sleep Medicine Expert, Fortis Hospital, Mulund explains what COPD is, and its stages. He also suggests preventive measures.
What is COPD
COPD is a relatively common, long-term and treatable condition that makes it difficult for a person to breathe. The term is also used synonymously for Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis.
COPD has different stages based on its severity. The classification or grading system used by medical professionals is known as the GOLD staging. The determining parameters of the same are seriousness of COPD, hospitalisation from COPD, spirometry test results (checks the amount of air and the pace at which one can exhale) etc.
Stage 1: Early
When a person suffering from COPD is in an early stage, he/she may not even be aware of the condition. The FEV-1 may range between 80-100 per cent. The typical signs that one exhibit are cough, mucus production, which one may easily confuse for common flu. Treatment options generally include bronchodilator medicines. These need to be inhaled using a nebuliser to open up the lung airway.
Stage 2: Mild
The next stage is when FEV-1 level drops to 50-79 per cent. Along with severe cough, there is a surge in mucus production, there can be shortness of breath when doing high-intensity workouts or walking. If the condition is acute, the doctor may recommend steroids or oxygen intake.
Stage 3: Severe
This stage is classified as severe. In this case, FEV-1 reaches dangerous levels – somewhere between 30-50 per cent. One may experience frequent cold, sickness, tightening of chest, swollen ankles, wheezing in addition to the previous symptoms.
Stage 4: Very severe
During this stage, one runs the risk of developing heart or lung failure. Oxygen levels are low, and FEV-1 is below 30 per cent. The frequent flare-ups, breath shortness, can be fatal. In all probability, the patient will require surgery, lung transplant, lung volume reduction, bullectomy, etc.
Tips to prevent COPD
*Take necessary precautions for occupational hazards
*Wear masks to avoid dust particles and fumes
*Do breathing exercises to improve lung functionality
*Get frequent health check-ups
*Have a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids
*Keep your surroundings clean