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    World COPD Day: Quit smoking, wear a mask; incessant coughing, swollen feet are warning signs


    The muscles used in breathing might require 10 times more calories than a healthy person.

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    COPD is the second biggest cause of death in India.
    By Dr Sachin Kumar

    Do you cough frequently or experience wheezing (a whistling sound while breathing), have shortness of breath and feel tired? You may have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a severe and progressive lung condition.

    COPD damages the airways in the lungs causing breathing difficulties, thereby reducing the lifespan and quality of life. COPD is a serious public health concern today. It affects 251 million lives globally and it causes 3.15 million deaths per year. More than 90% COPD-related deaths happen in low and middle-income countries. In India, three out of five leading causes of mortalities constitute noncommunicable diseases whereas COPD is the second biggest cause of death.

    COPD is usually considered a disease of the elderly, and is mostly diagnosed after 45. However, a person with genetic disease such as Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) can develop COPD at a younger age.

    Symptoms of COPD are not clear at its initial stage, but usually get worse over time, thereby disabling a person from performing day to day activities. The disease develops gradually and exhibits signs such as:
    • Coughing
    • Breathing difficulties
    • Chest tightness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Wheezing
    • Chronic cough producing clear, white, yellow or greenish mucus (sputum)
    • Frequent respiratory infections
    • Swelling in ankles, feet or legs (a complications of COPD known as 'pulmonary hypertension' and 'cor pulmonale')

    breathing-problem_thinkstockThinkStock Photos
    Symptoms of COPD are not clear at its initial stage, but usually get worse over time.

    Smoking is one of the main causes of COPD. One may also develop COPD when exposed to fumes from burning fuel, pollution and dust particles. Genetic factors may trigger the onset of COPD. Therefore, a person with a family history of COPD is at risk. There is no cure for COPD, but appropriate treatment can significantly improve the conditions, help manage the symptoms and prevent progression of the disease.

    Most of the COPD cases are directly related to cigarette smoking. Therefore, smoking and other risk factors such as pollution, indoor dusts and biomass exposure should be controlled. One should adhere to proper treatment to avoid complications of the disease such as lung cancer, high blood pressure in lung arteries, heart problems and various other respiratory infections.

    Adopt a healthy lifestyle to prevent the onset of the disease. A healthy diet won't cure COPD, but it can help the body to fight off infections, including chest infections that may lead to hospitalisation. People with COPD require more energy for breathing. The muscles used in breathing might require 10 times more calories than those of a person without COPD. So, it is wise to add complex carbohydrates to your diet, such as whole-grain bread and pasta, fresh fruits andnon-starchy vegetables with low carbohydrates content (except peas, potatoes and corn). However, limit the intake of simple carbohydrates such as table sugar, candy, cake and regular soft drinks.

    A 2003Trusted Source research shows improvement in people with COPD who took a high-fat, low-carb supplement instead of eating a high-carb diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals and fibre. These nutrients can keep the body healthy. Apples, stone fruits such as apricots and peaches, and melons may cause bloating and gas in some people due to their fermentable carbohydrates, and further lead to breathing problems in people with COPD. People with COPD should try to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Adequate hydration keeps mucus thin and makes it easier to cough up.

    (The author is Senior Consultant and Head, Department of Pulmonology at Sakra World Hospital, Bangalore)

    This Wellness Guide Is What You Need To Quit To Smoking & Drinking For Good

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    Use Your Imagination

    Cigarettes don't contain just nicotine but a range of toxic, carcinogenic chemicals you wouldn't want near your body. Next time you reach for a cigarette that looks quite appealing, imagine yourself licking tarmac, chewing on rubber cement or drinking a cocktail of battery acid, lighter fuel and nail varnish remover.

    (Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of
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    2 Comments on this Story

    vicky Palesa Adam91 days ago
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    Willinie Jacobs335 days ago
    I was diagnosed of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2012 at the age of 63. I had been a heavy smoker, my symptoms started out with dry cough and shortness of breath, i ended up in the hospital, on a ventilator. I should have known it was coming, but like most smokers, thought it would never happen to me. My COPD got significantly worse and unbearable because of my difficulty catching breath. Last year, i started on a natural COPD Herbal therapy from Rich Herbal Gardens, i read a lot of positive reviews from patients who used the treatment and i immediately started on it. I had great relief with this herbal treatment. I breath very much better now, no case of shortness of breath or chest tightness since treatment. Visit Rich Herbal Gardens website ww w. richherbalgardens. com. This COPD treatment is a miracle, I feel better and breath better!!
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