World COPD Day is celebrated every year on November 15 to raise awareness about the diseases and also preovided knowledge regarding its preventive measures. This year, the theme is “Breathing is Life – Act Earlier”. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as the name suggests is a chronic inflammatory disease of lungs causing obstructed airflow from the lungs. Though the condition normally affects adults, it can also have significant implications for children in some cases.
But, before knowing about its risk factors, causes and symptoms, let’s see what COPD is.
Dr. Bandana Mishra who is the Head of Department & Senior Consultant of Pulmonology at Sanar International Hospitals said that the GOLD 2023 report defines COPD as “a heterogeneous lung condition characterized by chronic respiratory symptoms (dyspnea, cough, expectoration, exacerbations) due to abnormalities of the airways (bronchitis, bronchiolitis) and/or alveoli (emphysema) that cause persistent, often progressive, airflow obstruction.”
The obstruction maybe caused by damage to the Bronchioles or get clogged by sputum. The damage to the lungs caused by COPD is irreversible.
Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis are two of the most common infections that make up COPD and it needs to be diagnosed by a medical professional.
How Does It Affect Children And Adults?
Dr. Akshay Budhraja, who is a Senior Consultant- Respiratory & Sleep Medicine, at Aakash Healthcare, Dwarka, New Delhi. said, “COPD encompasses a group of lung conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Individuals with COPD may have varying degrees of severity for these two illnesses, which typically coexist. Despite being a progressive illness that worsens with time, COPD is curable. Most COPD patients can obtain good symptom control, a high quality of life, and a lower chance of developing other related disorders with appropriate care.”
Talking about the condition in adults, he said that it is commonly diagnosed in individuals over the age of 40, with a history of smoking or exposure to environmental toxins that irritate the lungs.
“Symptoms of COPD usually don’t appear until significant lung damage has occurred and worsen over time, especially if exposure to smoking continues. Common symptoms may include shortness of breath, especially during physical activities, chest tightness, wheezing, recurrent respiratory infections, chronic cough that may produce mucus, fatigue, weight loss and swelling in ankles, feet or legs. People with COPD are also likely to experience worsening of symptoms called exacerbations that can persist for several days,” he said.
Coming to children, he said that although the condition is less common, childhood COPD is often the result of factors such as premature birth, respiratory infections and exposure to second-hand smoke.
“Chronic lung diseases are more common in premature infants as a result of underdeveloped lungs, a condition known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Children exposed to second hand smoke at home are more likely to develop childhood COPD as their lungs are developing and the toxins from tobacco can damage their lungs. In addition, recurrent respiratory infections in childhood can damage their lungs and, in some cases, lead to the development of COPD,” he said.
“Paediatric COPD has symptoms similar to those in adults and can include chronic cough, wheezing, recurrent lung infections and shortness of breath. Furthermore, childhood COPD may affect lung growth and function which in turn can affect overall development in children. Diagnosis and management of childhood COPD involves careful assessment of symptoms, lung function tests and identifying underlying causes. treatment typically includes staying away from irritants like passive smoking, adequate management of respiratory infections and in some cases, using medications or inhalers to control symptoms,” he added.
Dr Nevin Kishore, who is a Senior Consultant & HOD- Pulmonology, at Max Hospital Gurugaon mentioned the following: