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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): The Gateway to Many Other Diseases

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a term that refers to a wide variety of respiratory and pulmonary diseases. The disease kills about 1 million people in India and records the second highest mortality after heart diseases. There is no curative treatment for this progressive disease which can remain hidden for along time. Long-term exposure to polluted air and smoking are the primary reasons of COPD, as a result a non-smoking person may also develop this condition. Since it remains neglected and is not talked about much, people are not aware of the disease and often dismiss the symptoms as that of cough and cold. Areas like Kashmir have a COPD prevalence of 16 – 18 per cent, mainly due to extensive use of biomass for cooking and heating during the colder months. The bigger cause of concern is that COPD may well be the passage for many other diseases to make your body their home.

COPD may cause a range of serious diseases

There are many – right from that of heart to metabolic syndrome to sleep disorders, COPD can wreak havoc in your life. Some of the major diseases COPD may facilitate are:

Heart diseases: Low oxygen levels in your blood can narrow the arteries and increase blood pressure on the vessel walls that go from your heart to lungs as well as within your lungs. The right side of your heart may get bigger, a condition known as cor pulmonale, and cause irregular heartbeats, impaired blood circulation, an enlarged liver, and swelling in your feet and legs.COPD can also damage nerves that connect to the heart and cause arrhythmia.

Respiratory problems: People with COPD frequently have other conditions that affect the respiratory system, such as respiratory infections, flu, pneumonia, collapsed lung, and lung cancer. Flare-ups in a COPD patient may happen when the symptoms suddenly get worse, also known as acute exacerbations.

Mental health conditions: Living with COPD can be hard. You may feel stressed, sad, and lonely at times.At least 1 in 10 people with COPD is reported to get depression or anxiety; the number increases as the disease progresses. Medication can help, along with exercise, pulmanory rehabilitation and even music therapy.

Muscle and bone problems: Osteoporosis is common in COPD-affected people. They have been smokers, and now take steroids, it is hard for them to get enough bone-strengthening exercise due to shortness of breath, and they can be low on bone-building vitamin D. Make sure you undergo bone mineral density (BMD) tests at regular interval.

Sleep disorders:Trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, sleepiness during the daytime, waking up due to headaches, shortness of breath, brief periods of not breathing during sleep, and nightmares are some of the side effects of COPD on your sleep.

Metabolic syndrome: Our metabolism involves a group of chemical processes that digest the food a person eats and turn it into energy for the body. COPD often causes conditions linked to nutrition and metabolism, such as metabolic syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes or having an unhealthy body weight.

 BY: Dr. Gyan Bharti , Consultant Pulmonologist, Columbia Asia Hospital ,Ghaziabad

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