Indoor air pollution can damage the lungs over time

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Lung diseases are one of the major causes of mortality in India

New Delhi, 16 October 2018: Recent statistics indicate that about 55 million people in India suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In India, three out of five leading causes of mortalityare noncommunicable diseases and COPD is the second biggest cause of death. October is the Healthy Lung Month and awareness must be raised on the fact that it is imperative to take precautionary measures to avoid lung diseases.

An umbrella term used to describe progressive, inflammatory lung diseases, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, COPD is an often overlooked but serious global health threat. Air pollution is a leading cause of this condition. In India, COPD is under diagnosed as a lung function test, spirometry, is often not conducted during preliminary investigations.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “COPD is a disease that develops over time, with some of the major reasons for it being smoking and exposure to chemical irritants. Some people are also genetically predisposed to developing COPD. About 5% people with this condition have a deficiency in a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin which causes lungs to deteriorate and can also affect the liver. The stages of this condition range from stage I to stage IV. With time, the disease progressively becomes worse. Stage IV is also known as ‘end stage’ COPD. Most of the time, COPD is diagnosed in middle-aged or older adults. The disease is not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person.”

Some common signs and symptoms of COPD include ongoing cough or a cough that produces a lot of mucus; shortness of breath, especially with physical activity; wheezing or a whistling or squeaky sound while breathing; chest tightness.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor in Chief of IJCP, said, “The most effective and preventative therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is to avoid contact with tobacco smoke. Medication includes bronchodilators that relax the muscles around the airways. These help in opening the airways and make breathing easier. Surgery is usually the last resort and undertaken only after all other options do not benefit the patient.”

Indoor pollution is also one of the risk factors for COPD. The HCFI has initiated a campaign against this silent killer as part of the 25th MNTL Perfect Health Mela 2018 to be organized between 23rd and 27th October at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium, New Delhi.

Some tips from HCFI

  • Exercise well as it will help your lungs to function to their full potential. Do exercises that will make you breath fast to ensure healthy lungs.
  • Avoid smoking as it reduces lung function and is a major factor leading to COPD.
  • Eat healthy and food that is rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as fish and nuts for healthy lungs.
  • Avoid exposure to air pollution as it can damage the lungs and make it more prone to infections and diseases. Ensure that you dust furniture frequently and make your home a smoke-free zone.