Defining the basic issue: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Before we start discussing about this topic, let me quickly get into the initial half of this topic. The term “COPD” stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease which basically means that you cough for a prolonged period of time caused due to certain factors such as smoking or exposure to hazardous sites thereby affecting your lungs in an adverse manner. The second half of our topic today is the term “flare-up”, which means an unprecedented chain of events that could have an adverse effect, even causing death at times. So to sum up this on a lighter tone, I urge readers who have been thinking for a while now that they need to quit smoking to start enacting likewise.
Context: What it means for us
In a billion strong country like ours, it goes without saying that something as deadly as a COPD flare up affects a lot of people, both urban and rural thereby affecting multiple others who’re directly or at times, indirectly related to the subjects. Patients not only go through the physical pain as a result of a prolonged period of cough, but indeed go through a lot of mental as well as financial discomfort on a fairly regular basis. And the pattern is seen nationwide mostly due to lack of awareness in and around this subject among the general mass. What is happening as a result is a series of cases where the patient initially suffers from a series of respiratory disorders ultimately succumbing to a fatal outcome, more often than not. Alarming indeed!
Factual Interpretation: What do stats says
So I looked around the issue and interestingly found out a lot of information on this matter, some of which I am going to share with my readers here. Around 2004-2006, Indian Council of Medical Research implemented a detailed survey on four cities on a pretty contextual format of relevant questions targeting roughly around 35,000 people from various background, naming it as the” INSEARCH-I study”. What was observed evidently raised eyebrows nationwide. COPD existed in roughly 4.1% (5% males to 3.2% females) of those who were studied on the basis of the initial questionnaire. Smokers seemed to be affected by COPD almost as much as three times as compared to non-smokers. Quite expectedly, we also found out that those who smoked Bidi were at invariably much higher risk of developing COPD (8.2%) than the ones who used to be addicted only to cigarettes (5.9%). Also, exposure to cooking fuel accounted for a lot of people, especially women, unknowingly getting affected by COPD flare-ups.
Flare-Ups: What do they mean really?
To start, flare-ups are also called exacerbations and their results could vary, depending from individual-to-individual. While the impact seems to be more frequent among the rural percentage of those affected by COPD, the urban population also stands a chance of being more vulnerable due to the unfortunate, yet unavoidable advent of various implants from the western culture, things that might encourage frequent smokers (and sometimes, non-smokers as well) through so-called integral parts and parcels of youth culture such as “marijuana” or “hookah”. As a result of smoking for abnormally longer duration, you tend to develop an uncertain amount of mucus secretion which ultimately leads to cough and then, more cough. Doctors often say that the build-up period for these flare-up sessions is actually quite long, long enough for one to feel secure from the adverse effect that is observed much, much later only to shoot their senses towards the harsh circumference of reality. The lower-economic section of our society seems to be the likeliest target of this issue that has slowly developed into a monstrous one, much to the ignorance of most of us! The cost of treatment for such cases is indeed huge, and almost making no changes in the final outcome which in many cases, is beyond any significant repair. As a matter of fact, the National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health concluded that the financial burden of COPD is actually increasing all the time in rural India. As for non-smokers, lack of separate kitchen was singled out as the deadliest factor directly causing COPD in male subjects whereas the use of kerosene fuel for cooking affected the inflation in the number of females affected by COPD to almost 2.5 times. It is time this issue is considered with a lot of seriousness, especially by those who represent the youth of this ever-expanding population of ours because if we are to change, we have to have conviction among the right people to drive that; and who better than young India would understand the gravity of this matter.
Avoiding COPD Flare-Ups: Mantra to stay Healthy
What we all know is the fact that staying healthy always boosts our metabolic defence and hence we need to follow a few simple steps as mentioned below-
- A regular diet always helps. The best way to do this consulting a doctor on the pros and cons of various food habits thereby figuring out a way to consume a balanced yet good-to-taste diet on a daily basis.
- Try and avoid the effect of communicable diseases as much as possible by keeping eyes, nose and mouth untouched unless absolutely necessary.
Contact diseases such as flu or cough might result in your dormant symptoms to flare up, in some cases, almost up to an alarming level that needs immediate medical attention.
- Things that are capable of causing COPD should be avoided and reduced to a minimum extent; things such as prolonged exposure to air pollution, or smoking tobacco on a regular basis need to be checked down to a significant level. In such cases, consulting the doctor could be a great idea since a planned set of actions needs to be chartered as early as possible.
Let’s discuss the symptoms that indicate we might just have been affected:
• Mucus secretion that is more yellow, green or brown than usual. Increase in thickness as well, much more than usual.
• Feeling breathlessness (and at times shortness of breath)
• Feeling feverish on a regular basis. Issues such as runny nose, sore throat, continuous cough are indeed significant indicators that you are potentially a COPD patient.
• Doctors also say that swollen ankles are yet another viable indicator that you are likely to have been affected by COPD and you need immediate attention to avoid further damage than already done so you have better chances of living a regular life.
Conclusion: How do we go forward?
Well, for what it’s worth, we need to understand that the focal point of this discussion is to spread awareness among the general mass that COPD patients need to be understood and well read inorder to avoid further cases that are occuring only due to ignorance. We need to realise that unless we make it our mission to prevent such diseases, we are only to blame ourselves for being a third world nation, always thriving to seek guidance from the so-called strong conterparts that are eagerly waiting to bank on our miseries and keep us restricted to where they think we supposedly fit in. This will only help us feel independent and indeed lead us towards a path that is much more progressive in nature. Let’s atleast learn to quit smoking, because we’re just trying save ourselves against the onslaught of this new demon, called the COPD.