Active as well as passive smoking causes Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and hence should be avoided. [Representational image]Reuters

November is celebrated as the National Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Awareness month and the COPD day is celebrated on November 16 which falls on a Wednesday this year.

COPD is a persistent ailment, which comprises a number of diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis, that impact the breathing adversely, leading to restricted airflow in the lung. This disease is considered to be fatal as it can eventually lead to death.

Dr Sandeep Tilve, a Pulmonologist from SRV Hospital, Goregaon located in Mumbai, India spoke to International Business Times India exclusively and shed some light on this chronic ailment, while giving us some tips to keep this illness at bay.

Around 3 million new cases are reported around the globe every year, out of which more than 20 percent cases are from India, Dr Tilve informed us.

According to the 2001-10 statistics by British Lung Foundation, the age standardized mortality rate due to COPD in US is 248.2 per million people and UK exhibits a mortality rate of 210.7 per million people.

A 2004 statistics by the WHO revealed that globally there were 64 million people suffering from COPD and 3 million died of it. As per the forecast by the WHO, by 2030, COPD will be the third major cause of death in the world.

"People belonging to age group above 50 are usually more prone to death caused by COPD," said Dr Tilve.

"Awareness among people regarding COPD is very less, which leads to delayed diagnosis, as patients avoid medical help in the initial stages. Patients are found to seek medical help only after the condition progresses," Dr Tilve added.

Unfortunately, most of the people don't realize that they are suffering from this chronic illness and lead a poor quality of life. Not detecting the signs and symptoms of this disease leads to further deterioration in the health condition, which causes further damage to the lungs.

The main reason behind observing world COPD day is to provide the millions of people with the right treatment and spread awareness about it.

Some common symptoms observed in people diagnosed by COPD are:

  • Excess production of sputum or cough
  • Feeling breathless

The factors causing COPD are:

  • Air pollution
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to dusts and chemicals

Some tips given by Dr Tilve to stay away from COPD are:

  • STOP smoking, be it active or passive
  • Avoid exposure to domestic smoke
  • Don't neglect symptoms like persistent cough and breathlessness on exertion
  • Physical examination and basic tests like chest's x-ray and spirometry test to check lung's functioning should be done on experiencing the above symptoms.
  • TB (tuberculosis) and Lung Cancer can coexist with COPD in some cases, so appropriate investigations should be done
  • The mainstay of treatment is generally inhalation medications with some add-on oral medications