What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)? Causes, Signs, Risk Factors And Preventive Measures

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Prognosis, Diagnosis and Expected Duration. Can One Live with COPD?

Tavishi Dogra
Written by: Tavishi DograUpdated at: Nov 30, 2020 17:00 IST
What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)? Causes, Signs, Risk Factors And Preventive Measures

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What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)? Constructive Pulmonary Disease is a disease that involves the tubes and the tissues of the lung, also known as the airways of the lung and the parenchyma of the lung. COPD occurs when the lung is damaged or irritated by a noxious or a harmful substance. These toxic substances can range from cigarette smoke to biomass fuels which are used in rural areas for cooking to air pollution in the atmosphere. We also know that diseases such are tuberculosis once treated can result in a chronic condition which resembles smoking-associated COPD. The diagnosis of COPD presently is made using a test called the spirometry. Spirometry is a test in which you blow into a tube, and the machine measures the lung function that an individual has, and there are specific parameters which point towards the diagnosis of COPD.

Causes of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

  • There are two significant causes of COPD, i.e. cigarette, smoke and biomass exposure. But besides, we must know that outdoor air pollution is a contributor to COPD. So reducing outdoor air pollution should be a priority in terms of what the government needs to do in terms of reducing the prevalence of COPD.
  • The cause behind COPD is usually the long-term exposure to irritants that damage your airways and lungs. Do you know that in the US, cigarette smoke is the leading cause behind COPD? Cigar, pipe and other varieties of tobacco smoke can cause COPD too, especially if you inhale them. Exposure to other inhaled irritants can contribute to COPD.

What are the signs and symptoms of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)?

The most common symptoms to look out for are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A cough that is chronic that last for a long time
  • Wheezing or a whistling sound that is produced from the chest
  • Difficulty doing activities on a day to day basis as a result of fatigue, lack of energy can be symptoms of COPD

So if an individual has any symptoms, they should get a spirometry test done to rule out the possibilities of COPD.

Also Read: World COPD Day 2020: 5 Steps To Prevent Pulmonary Disease 

Risk Factors for COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Risk Factors for COPD

Faulty diet and lifestyle play a significant role in any disease like:

  • Irregular and untimely eating of food, 
  • Exposure to dust, fume, smoke, wind.
  • Residing in a cold place and using cold water,
  • Reduced physical exertion or overexertion,
  • Day time sleep, irregular or reversed sleep pattern
  • Injury to vital parts
  • Smoking regularly
  • Working for long years in the Chemical Industry
  • Curd, unboiled milk, aquatic and marshy meat or any dietic articles challenging to digest causing indigestion.

What is the prognosis of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)?

Dr Lancelot Mark Pinto, Consultant Respirologist, P.D Hinduja Hospital & MRC says that "COPD, by definition, tends to be a progressive disease which is as the person gets older, the disease tends to worsen in terms of severity. Do things influence this prognosis? Yes. If an individual stops smoking the velocity at which the disease progresses slows down significantly. If the noxious stimuli, which are irritating the lung such as biomass fuel or pollution reduce that exposure to the lung reduces and one can alter the prognosis of the disease."

Also Read: Physiotherapy Treatment For COPD


How does one can prevent Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

  • Well, the commonest cause of COPD worldwide is the smoking of tobacco. Therefore the most noticeable impact one can make by reducing the prevalence of the disease is by smoking encouraging people not to take up smoking, quit smoking or give up smoking through the aid of medicines, counselling or the assistance of different kinds of pharma therapy that is available. 
  • Now in a country like India, what is unique is that most of the COPD seen amongst women is not associated with smoking. It’s associated with exposure to biomass fuels. So the burning of coal, cork residues, natural biomass fuels and the pollution caused is the result of that. So a lot of people in rural households will have a tiny kitchen with rural ventilation and use biomass fuels. 
  • This exposure to biomass fuels is the no. 1 cause for COPD amongst women in India. This becomes an actual preventable cause in India. Switching over from biomass fuels to LPG can significantly influence the prevalence and prevent COPD among individuals in India
 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

What is the diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

"Unfortunately, COPD often diagnosed in stage 2 or stage 3, that is the most advance form of the disease. This is because the lungs are very resilient organs and a person can go about his or her day to day activities without realizing that they have COPD till their lung function falls to almost 50% that what it should be which is why the way to detect COPD at an early stage is to screen yourself. If you have smoked in your lifetime at any point of time or been exposed to biomass fuels, you should get screened with spirometry or a PFT to know whether you have COPD. Of course, if you have symptoms, you must get tested for COPD" said Consultant Respirologist, Dr Lancelot Mark Pinto.

Also Read: Health Benefits Of COPD Breathing Exercise


What is the expected duration of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

Life Expectancy depends on the severity of the disease. If proper treatment is taken and advice from an Ayurveda Vaidya is followed, the patient can survive for a longer time. However, the average life expectancy who undergoes a lung transplant (of a COPD patient) is about five years. People who continue to smoke (even after COPD), develop severe hypoxemia, right-sided heart failure and have low ability to do daily functions usually have a poor prognosis. They also have a rapid decline in the FEV1/FVC ratio.

How Can One Live with Chronic Lung Disease? Explains Dr Pooja Kohli, VP - Ayurveda Growth, NirogStreet

  • Surviving with Chronic Lung Disease means leading a life in a new way; definitely, it will be more comfortable with Ayurveda as Ayurveda recommends lifestyle and diet modification, Shaman Chikitsa and Shodan Chikitsa for Chronic Lung Disease.
  • Lifestyle Modifications are like avoiding exposure to cold, pollution and chemicals, quit smoking and take proper sleep as due to less sleep Vata increases which will cause problems in pranvaha strotas. Exercise regularly and wake up before sunrise.
  • In diet, consumption should be a hot meal, and in Lukewarm routine water must be taken. Meals should be healthy, which will include vegetables, ginger, garlic, black piper, soups etc. Food kept in the refrigerator should be strictly avoided.
  • Shaman Chikitsa (Medication) – there are many medicines like shankh vati, which can be prescribed to such patients, so any such patient needs to consult Ayurveda doctor for medication.
  • Shodan chikitsa (Bio-purification) can be performed on a regular interval in such cases with Bio-purification/ panchakarma removes toxins from the body and eliminates excess mucus accumulated in the lungs.

Can COPD Patients Improve Lung Function by Practicing Yoga?

"Yes. Yoga practices increase the lung capacity and strength of internal organs. Patients of COPD also suffer from anxiety and depression, so Yoga plays a vital role in strengthening them physically as well as mentally. Many studies have been conducted on Yoga regarding its role on COPD patients which indicated that Yoga not only works at the physical level, it plays a role in psycho-emotional stability and relaxation" said, Dr Pooja Kohli.

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