World COPD day 2020: Tips to manage COPD symptoms during winters

March 01, 2021

World COPD Day 2020 tries to spread awareness about the groups of conditions that can affect the lungs. In this article, know from the expert the symptoms of COPD and ways to manage this during the winter season and when pollution levels are high.

World COPD Day 2020 falls on 18 November. This day tries to create awareness about COPD and how to fight this effectively. The theme for the World COPD Day 2020 is 'Living Well With COPD - Everybody, Everywhere.' Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a condition that limits the airflow in and out of the lungs. Certain substances and change in weather can cause COPD problems or can flare up the condition. Cold, windy weather combined with air pollution can worsen the condition. A drop in temperature affects the lungs and prolonged exposure to cold weather further affects the respiratory system.

COPD is an umbrella term for lung diseases that can manifest in the human body without showing any symptoms for many years. The biggest risk factor being smoking. Indoor and outdoor pollution and genetic risk factors alpha, antitrypsin defenses are also responsible for development of COPD. COPD patients can get frequent exacerbation based on severity of lung infection. The condition majorly makes breathing difficult by showing symptoms like shortness of breath and cough in some people. Most people attribute these symptoms to aging ignoring the possibility of lung problems.

Symptoms and ways to manage COPD in winter

How to recognise COPD?

  1. Shortness of breath especially during physical activities
  2. Wheezing
  3. Chest tightness
  4. Persistent cough with phlegm
  5. Frequent respiratory infections
  6. Lack of energy
  7. Unintended weight loss
  8. Swollen ankles
  9. Tiredness

These symptoms might increasingly get worse over time and make the situation difficult to perform day to day activities.

People suffering from COPD and Asthma are at a higher risk of developing complications during winter. Also, the resumption of construction activities has posed challenges to the environment by increased dust accumulation leading to a drop in air quality. It is crucial for people with lung problems to take the necessary precautions during the season.

Managing COPD in winter

  • It is advised to cover the face with the mask when you step out. It will also help in avoiding any sort of infection like cold, flu, cough etc.
  • Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day
  • Reduce exposure to any kind of smoke
  • Keep your indoors free of dust, pet dander
  • Avoid crowded places

Asthma, bronchiectasis, anemia also show similar symptoms of COPD. A simple breathing test is enough to identify the difference. Taking the necessary precautions and timely treatment helps in managing COPD.

- By Dr. Hirenappa Udnur, Pulmonologist, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal

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