The most frequent cause of COPD risk is cigarette smoking. Smoking causes COPD in 80% of cases, and 20% of smokers will likely develop the disease. Information on smoking, including frequency, intensity, and the number of years since quitting for former smokers, may be crucial in evaluating the risk of COPD.
Compared to men, women are developing COPD at a faster rate. Women currently have the same rates of COPD prevalence and mortality as men due to a substantial increase in these numbers.
Additionally, women can be more vulnerable to the negative effects of tobacco smoke. Women who smoke lose lung function at a higher rate than men. The majority of COPD patients who are not smokers are female.
Smoking harms your lungs’ air sacs, airways, and lining. It is challenging to breathe when the lungs are injured because not enough air can enter or exit. Additionally, smoking might cause flare-ups of COPD.
Incidence of female smokers in India
It is concerning that the number of urban female smokers is rising and that this trend could pose a public health issue in India in another 15 to 20 years. The negative effects of smoking take 10–20 years to manifest in the population who uses tobacco, such as smokers and paan masala chewers. Until recently, tobacco-related illnesses like lung and head-and-neck cancer have almost exclusively affected men.
But given the sharp rise in female smokers over the past 10 to 15 years, it’s possible that over the next 20 years, these diseases may become much more common among women in India. A significant portion of urban ladies in their 20s who live in metro areas and tier 1 cities now smoke cigarettes. The effects of smoking will become apparent in these girls in their late 40s and early 50s.
What are the symptoms?
The COPD symptoms may appear gradually, with a persistent cough from smoking that lasts all day long. This will make you feel exhausted and have difficulty in breathing.
Triggers are things that intensify COPD symptoms. You may feel better if you are aware of your triggers and know how to avoid them. For many COPD patients, smoking is a trigger. Your symptoms may worsen or flare up as a result of smoking. Smoking can hurt everyone; you don’t have to be a smoker for it to do so. Another cause of COPD flare-ups is being exposed to other people’s smoke, often known as second-hand smoke.
Is COPD curable?
As the situation stands now, if you have COPD you will always have it because there is currently no treatment for it. There are, however, techniques to manage the illness and make breathing easier for you.
COPD preventive measures and treatment
These medications can help in reducing symptoms and improving out comes in COPD patients. There are variety of medications available for the treatment of COPD, majority are inhaled; bronchodilators and inhaled steroids based on the patients’ clinical needs.
There are numerous strategies to stop smoking, such as medicines, nicotine replacement therapy; online or in-person support groups; counselling. Though it is difficult, it is not impossible to quit this habit. Newer treatments and programmes can be extremely beneficial and can aid in quitting.
About the author: Dr. Vivek Anand Padegal is a Senior Consultant in Pulmonology at Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore. All views/opinions expressed in the article are of the author.