The Silent Threat: COPD and Air Pollution
Hemlata and Kiran's Story:
“I am worried about my grandmother. She has COPD, and air pollution is only making things worse.” Hemlata tells her friend, Kiran.
“Hey, what’s COPD?” Kiran asked.
“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung disease that causes restricted airflow and breathing problems. This is sometimes called emphysema or chronic bronchitis. In people with COPD, the lungs may become damaged or filled with phlegm.” Hemlata replied.
“Oh, okay. How is air pollution affecting her?” Kiran asked.
“Kiran, the pollution in this city is growing like anything, and sensitive people like my grandmother get affected the most by pollutants,” Hemlata replied.
“That is true, Hemlata,” Kiran replied. “How is she coping with all this?”
“The doctor has asked her to stay indoors as much as possible. She should cover her nose and mouth with a mask or damp cloth and carry her inhalers if going out. Moreover, a rescue inhaler and inhaled oral steroids can reduce symptoms and further damage.” Hemlata replied.
“Hey, listen. She will be fine, okay?” Kiran said.
“Okay, I still have faith, Kiran.”
“Doctor, what are the symptoms of COPD? I think my grandfather has it?” Raju asked.
“Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, especially during physical activity, wheezing, chest tightness, a chronic cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow, or green in color, Frequent respiratory infections, lack of energy, unexpected weight loss in later stages, etc.” the doctor replied.
“How can one stay safe if he has COPD? Does pollution triggers COPD patients?” Raju asked.
“Risk factors for COPD include exposure to tobacco smoke. The most important risk factors for COPD are long-term cigarette smoking, occupational exposure to dust and chemicals, and exposure to fumes from burning fuels. Long-term exposure to air with high concentrations of pollutants can increase the incidence of COPD. Long-term exposure to particulate matter, especially PM 2.5 and nitrogen dioxide, increases the risk of developing COPD.” the doctor replied.
“Thanks for this information, doctor. I will share this with my grandfather. He will get better soon if he takes care of his health.” Raju added.
“Yes, he will be fine. Call me if something is urgent. I would love to help.”
“Thank you, doctor.”