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COPD - Are You Aware Of These Myths & Facts?

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, MD - Internal Medicine
Internal Medicine Specialist, Delhi  •  23 years experience
COPD - Are You Aware Of These Myths & Facts?

When it comes to COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, not many people are aware of this condition. COPD is a chronic medical condition characterized by the inflammation of lungs. The inflammation interferes with the functioning of the lungs resulting in breathing problems. An early diagnosis and timely medication can improve the condition to a great extent. However, lack of proper knowledge and myths surrounding COPD often make the situation worse. In this article, we will discuss some myths and facts related to COPD to help people understand the condition better.

Myth: COPD is an incurable chronic lung disease mainly affecting the aged people (above 60 years).
Fact: There is no denying the fact that COPD is indeed a chronic disorder that severely affects the lungs and its functioning. However, with timely diagnosis and treatment, the condition and the deleterious consequences can be managed and controlled significantly. Since COPD triggers breathing problems (the airflow from the lungs gets obstructed), the use of bronchodilators, oxygen therapy or corticosteroids can be highly beneficial. Though COPD is rare among young adults, the condition can affect people in their late 30's or early 40's as well.

Myth: COPD only affects people who smoke.
Fact: Smoking is one of the triggers for COPD, but the condition can also affect people who have never smoked in their lifetime. Factors such as neonatal chronic lung disease or prolonged exposure to substances that cause lung irritation and damage (toxic industrial fumes and chemicals) can play a pivotal role in triggering COPD. COPD can also be a genetic predisposition.

Myth: People with COPD should avoid exercise and physical activities.

Fact: Mild to moderate exercise (especially breathing exercise) are indeed helpful and go a long way in the effective management of COPD. Exercising regularly (for 20-30 minutes or as the doctor recommended) help to lower the blood pressure and improve the circulation that provides fruitful results for people with breathing problems. However, doctors do advise people with shortness of breath to avoid strenuous exercise.

Myth: COPD only affects the lungs.
Fact: With time and left unmanaged and untreated, COPD acts as a catalyst making a person more susceptible to heart ailments. In some cases, the condition can also trigger depression and anxiety.

Myth: In the case of COPD, giving up on smoking will not produce any positive results.
Fact: Giving up on smoking may not help to reverse the damage that has already been caused by COPD. However, quitting smoking along with proper medications and lifestyle changes does help to control the condition better. In some instances, there were also significant improvements in the associated symptoms (such as shortness of breath, fatigue, wheezing, a chronic cough).

Myth: COPD is another name for Asthma.
Fact: Many people confuse COPD with Asthma. Though some symptoms may appear identical (such as wheezing, shortness of breath), the conditions are different and so are their treatments. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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