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One of the Lancet studies reveals that over 9 million people in India still suffer from obstructive airway disease (OAM). With 18% of the world’s population, India ranks 2nd in the world for chronic respiratory diseases. India also contributes 12% of the global asthma burden. But surprisingly, it contributes to 42% of asthma deaths worldwide.

Obstructive airway disease is the umbrella term given to diseases that cause air passage through the lungs to constrict, making it difficult or impossible to breathe. The OAD has been further divided into asthma, bronchiectasis, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Unless they are genetic, ADOs are usually caused by long-term inhalation of contaminants or are part of an allergic reaction.

COPD is the second leading cause of death and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in India, but it remains poorly recognized. Ahead of COPD Awareness Month in November, which aims to raise awareness, share knowledge and discuss ways to reduce the burden of COPD, we need to increase the level of COPD awareness in the Indian community which is extremely low, highlighting the need to have national mass outreach expeditions to India.

Stressing the need for immediate corrective action, Dr Sundeep Salvi, director of the Chest Research Foundation (CRF), Pune, said: “If India is to reduce the growing burden of obstructive airway disease OAD in the country, we need nothing less than a respiratory revolution. and this will only be possible through a concerted national effort and appropriate political decisions in the form of a national ADO prevention and control program. India should be aware of this threat and use the steps taken by the central government to tackle this latent threat before it gets out of hand.

The exact mechanisms by which systemic effects occur are unclear, but there is enough evidence to indicate that damaged lung function also has a major impact on the functioning of other major organs. Heart problems, high blood pressure, muscle weight loss, nutritional imbalance, and depression are some of the risks that patients with OAD are prone to. Medication can help relieve symptoms and comorbidities that develop as a result of ADO. However, the best way to curb the consequences of airway obstruction is early diagnosis and prevention.

Since most cases are the result of an inadequate respiratory environment, ADOs can be largely kept at bay by avoiding regular exposure to dust, smoke (yes, cigarette smoke too), vapors and other types of pollutants. In the event of occupational exposure, appropriate protective equipment and face shields should be worn to prevent inhalation of contaminants.

With the right approach and swift action, we can effectively fight OAD to bring down a significant number of cases.


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