While many people are aware of the signs of asthma, not many people know that its symptoms can sometimes overlap with those of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Every year the festive months can be a challenging phase for people who suffer from COPD and asthma as the crackers can increase air pollution, thereby triggering many symptoms related to these conditions. However, with proper management patients with asthma, rhinitis, allergies, or COPD can enjoy these festivals.
Its difficult to differentiate between COPD and Asthma. Some patients have symptoms of both asthmaand COPD, wherein factorslike age, cause and triggers can help differentiate between the two conditions.Asthma occurs more in smokers who develop breathlessness in their third or fourth decade of life and have had allergic symptoms since childhood.
The exact cause of asthma is relatively unknown. According to research, the most believablereasons for a person developing asthma can be attributed to environmental and genetic factors. Pollen, dust mites, mould, pet hair, respiratory infections, physical activity, cold air, smoke, some medications (like beta blockers and aspirin), stress, sulphites and preservatives added to some foods and beverages, and gastro oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are some popular triggers related to asthma.
On the other hand, one of the known causes of COPD is smoking and exposure to toxic gases that emanate from burning fuel for cooking and heating. Since smoke from both these scenarios can irritate the lungs, it can harm the bronchial tubes and air sacs. This will cause these structures to lose their natural elasticity and over-expand, which causes the air to be trapped in the lungs when a person exhales. In some rare cases, COPD can also be caused due to a genetic disorder. In this condition, low levels of a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) are produced. Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) is a protein made mainly by the liver, which then moves into the individual’s bloodstream. As this protein protects the lungs and other vital organs from the detrimental effects of irritants and infections, a lack of the same can cause COPD in an individual.
Since firecrackers directly impact the air quality, keeping the following tips in mind, especially if you have asthma and COPD, can go a long way in helping you make the best of the upcoming festive season.
- Stay away from the smoke and particulates emitted from fireworks.
- Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth if the outdoor smoke is too much.
- Say no to smoking and stay away from second-hand smoke as well.
- Drink enough fluids and stay hydrated.
- Take medicines as prescribed and keep emergency medication, nebulization, and other such things handy.
- While everyone likes to indulge in sweets and delicious foods, pay equal attention to a good diet that focuses on loads of fruits and vegetables and improves protein intake to help boost immunity.
- Invest in a good quality air purifier so that the indoor air quality remains good, clean, and healthy.
Asthma and COPD triggers can be high during the festive season, but they can also be controlled by taking the necessary precautions. To prevent these from causing unwanted emergencies, keep your inhalers and medicines handy, although if symptoms become severe, seek medical assistance urgently.
In conclusion, highlighting the need to take precautions, especially during the festive season, is critical to ensure fewer emergency cases related to asthma and COPD. Steer clear of anything that irritates the lungs, such as spray chemicals, dust, pollen, mould, perfumes, and smoke and enjoy the festive season without extra stress.
–Dr SivareshmiUnnithan, Consultant, Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Anandapur, Kolkata