Last November 19, 2014, the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP) hosted a media briefing to commemorate the World COPD Day and help spread awareness of this often overlooked disease – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) at Makati Shangri-la. The theme of this year’s World COPD Day is “It’s not too late.” This positive message emphasizes the meaningful actions people can take to improve their respiratory health, at any stage before or after a COPD diagnosis.
What is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the 21st century. The disease starts when harmful gases are inhaled and damage the lung’s airways and air sacs. These harmful gases maybe in the form of cigarette smoke, bio mass fuel (such as charcoal or firewood), air pollution and occupational dust. The damages in the lungs cause symptoms of breathlessness, cough and phlegm production.
A clinical diagnosis should be considered in any person 40 years old and above who has risk factors such as exposure to noxious particles or gases. A COPD patient may not feel anything at the start and develop cough and sputum production during the mid to late stage of the disease. Thus, high index of suspicion is needed for any person with risk factors. Spirometry is needed to make a confident diagnosis of COPD. It is one of the diagnostic tools that is often underutilized in the Philippines. A person with risk factors and symptoms should ask his/her doctor about spirometry testing.
Early signs and symptoms of COPD:
- Chronic cough
- Sputum production (phlegm)
YES, COPD is a treatable disease. It is never too late for a patient to seek medical consultation. Pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies are available to help people at all stages of disease feel better and live a more active life.
Pharmacological treatment includes drugs that dilates the airways (bronchodilators) and prevents further lung damage (anti-inflammatory drugs). These drugs if taken religiously are effective.
Non-pharmacological therapies include the following:
– Smoking cessation or continued noxious gas exposure prevention,
– Vaccination against flu and pneumonia
– Pulmonary rehabilitation.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is one of the most effective treatments for a COPD patient. It involves patient going to the pulmonary rehab center wherein they exercise, gets education, advises and social support on how to cope up with disease and live a happy life.
It is never too late for a COPD patient to enroll in a pulmonary rehabilitation program. Information for access to the program can be obtained from the PCCP website.
I hope you can all take part in spreading awareness regarding Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Always rember that early detection of the disease and appropriate interventions are vital. These can help slow down its advance and facilitate quality of life for the patients.
It s never too late…..
– to stop smoking.
– to have a lung function test done. – to religious follow the prescription of your COPD doctor.
– to enroll in a pulmonary rehabilitation program.