Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is not one single disease but an umbrella term used to describe chronic lung diseases that cause limitations in lung airflow. The more familiar terms ’chronic bronchitis’ and ’emphysema’ are no longer used, but are now included within the COPD diagnosis.
As of 2015, COPD affected about 174.5 million (2.4%) of the global population. It typically occurs in people over the age of 40 and is the third leading cause of death.
The guidelines of GOLD (Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease) classify COPD in four stages according to its severity. A chronic cough is often the first symptom to develop.
Next common symptoms are breathlessness, or a ’need for air’, and excessive sputum production. Shortness of breath is often the symptom that bothers people most and worsens over time, being a source of both anxiety and a poor quality of life in those with COPD.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is not just simply a smoker’s cough, but a under-diagnosed, life threatening lung disease that may progressively lead to death. The rate at which COPD worsens varies with the presence of factors that predict a poor outcome, including severe airflow obstruction, little ability to exercise, significant underweight or overweight, congestive heart failure, and frequent exacerbations.
Though there is no known cure for COPD, treatment can slow worsening. It helps reduce shortness of breath, wheeze, and exercise limitation, resulting in an improved quality of life. COPD treatment include smoking cessation, respiratory rehabilitation, and often inhaled bronchodilators and steroids. In those who have periods of acute worsening, increased use of medications and hospitalization may be needed. Annual influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations in those with COPD reduce exacerbations and hospitalizations. Research shows that eating a diet high in beta-carotene and walking exercises may also help improve patient’s condition.
In cases of severe COPD some people may benefit from long-term oxygen therapy or lung transplantation.
Most cases of COPD can be potentially prevented by reducing exposure to risk factors such as tobacco smoke and air pollution. Since the primary cause of COPD is tobacco smoking, keeing young people from starting smoking is a key aspect of preventing this serious health problem.
World COPD Day was first held in 2002 and every year over 50 countries worldwide take part in activities to raise awareness of COPD.
This Day is a global effort to boost people’s understanding of COPD and advocate for better care for patients. It is annually held the third Wednesday of November.
Share the information. Use the hashtag #WorldCOPDDay to show your support for everyone living with COPD.
Source: who.int | copdfoundation.org | medscape.com
In 2024 World COPD Day in USA falls on November 20.