We are on the eve of celebrating another World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day, the main objective of this date is to raise awareness among the population about the prevention, detection and treatment of this public health problem.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COPD is the third leading cause of death in the world in middle- and low-income countries.
The obstructive pulmonary disease consists of a progressive impairment of the lungs, which alters respiratory capacity and presents persistent respiratory symptoms of progressive onset such as dyspnea or shortness of breath, chronic cough and/or abnormal sputum production, and chest echoes or wheezing. If not treated in time, it could lead to cancer and ultimately death.
The obstructive pulmonary disease its origin is mainly due to prolonged exposure to harmful gases and particles, for example in highly polluted environments. Tobacco consumption is the main cause of COPD. People who smoke, former smokers and passive smokers or those exposed to tobacco smoke in the environment have a high risk factor.
Although it is also due to personal factors such as how the immune system responds, genetics and events that affect lung development in childhood.
If you or anyone you know experiences any or several of the symptoms of obstructive pulmonary disease mentioned, it is important to seek a specialist for review and evaluation.
Early detection favors timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment in order to prevent the progression of this disease.
¿How can COPD be detected?
Spirometry is the test used to diagnose COPD. It evaluates the proper functioning of the lungs. Below, we describe what this exam consists of:
- The patient must take a deep breath and then exhale “with all their might” as many times as required and indicated by the specialist.
- The air is expelled through a tube connected to a device called a spirometer.
- The test takes measurements of the volume of air the patient is capable of breathing (inhaling and exhaling) and the speed at which they are able to perform this action.
This information defines how the lungs are functioning and whether there may be any obstruction in the respiratory pathways that may indicate COPD.
Spirometry also allows for the diagnosis of the following conditions:
restrictive lung disease (such as interstitial pulmonary fibrosis)
other disorders that affect lung function
It is recommended to not smoke on the day of the test, avoid alcohol consumption and eat moderately beforehand, as these factors can affect breathing capacity and alter the results of the evaluation.
It is important to have the test done annually to monitor any changes that may occur for patients diagnosed with COPD or asthma. If breathing problems worsen, it is important to see a doctor immediately.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a serious and chronic lung disease that affects millions of people around the world. To improve their overall health and help control their disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends several strategies.
Firstly, it is crucial for individuals with COPD to quit smoking. Assistance should be provided to help them quit this habit, as smoking is one of the leading causes of COPD.
In addition, regular exercise and a healthy diet can also help improve overall health and manage COPD symptoms. It is also important to get vaccinated against pneumonia, flu, influenza, and COVID-19, as respiratory infections can cause exacerbations of COPD.
Under medical supervision, it is recommended to use different types of medications that can be inhaled to help reduce symptoms and prevent exacerbations. These medications can be administered in a single inhaler containing several drugs due to their different mechanisms of action.
To commemorate World COPD Day, it is essential to share information and raise awareness about this disease. Active participation against smoking is also important to prevent the onset of COPD. Every person affected by COPD has the right to be treated and receive the corresponding treatment.
Taking care of everyone’s lungs is crucial, and we must all work together to prevent and manage COPD.