The two most common chronic respiratory diseases are asthma and COPD – both affecting the airways in the lungs
As the world has opened up in the post-pandemic period, caseloads of pulmonary diseases have been on the rise in countries across the globe – including the UAE. A specialist from the Respiratory Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has explained the trends and severity behind these cases, as well as tips to prevent chronic diseases.
“Pulmonary diseases, also known as chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs), affect the airways and other structures of the lungs. They affect people across the world, including the UAE, where cases of asthma and reactive disease are commonly witnessed. Other diseases that affect people worldwide include and are not limited to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, interstitial lung disease, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis – especially connective tissue disease, associated lung diseases, pulmonary hypertension and lung cancer,” Dr Saniya Khan, staff physician, pulmonology, told Khaleej Times.
Dr Saniya noted that theses diseases are a result of a number of risk factors such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, occupational chemicals and dust, along with frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood.
“While CRDs are not curable, various forms of treatment can help control symptoms and improve daily life for people living with these conditions.”
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s advanced multi-disciplinary lung disease programme provides care in diagnosis and initial testing, advanced medical and surgical management, pulmonary rehabilitation and comprehensive lung transplant care.
Symptoms, levels of discomfort
The two most common chronic respiratory diseases are asthma and COPD – both affecting the airways in the lungs. According to the World Health Organisation, approximately half a billion people live with asthma and COPD, and together, these 2 conditions cause almost 4 million deaths every year. More than 1 million of these deaths occur ‘prematurely’ – in people aged under 70 years. Up to 90 per cent of these premature deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.
Asthma is a long-term condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. COPD usually refers to the destruction of the tiny air sacs at the end of the airways in the lungs. Both asthma and COPD share common symptoms like cough, wheezing and difficulty breathing, and people may have both conditions.
“Smoking is a risk factor that makes people more susceptible to COPD and it is a social factor in many countries around the world, including the Middle East. Environmental conditions play an important factor in lung diseases, and in the Gulf and Middle East, [these include a] combination of dust, humid conditions, central air conditioning systems which are host to many inciting agents if not maintained and cleaned properly, [and the] use of inhaled incense. [Exposure to the latter] Is characterised as an organic biofuel, [which] may lead to many lung diseases,” Dr Saniya underlined.
Top 5 preventive tips for residents
“It is important to take care of your lungs and be aware of the causes and risk factors of pulmonary diseases. Prevention, early detection and timely intervention are critical for improving the lives of people at risk of pulmonary diseases,” Dr Saniya added.
- Quit smoking, as that is the root cause of many issues including pulmonary disease and cancer.
- Be vigilant of changes in bodily functions, including blood pressure, pulse, and swelling on feet and ankles which can be early signs.
- Maintain a healthy diet and follow an exercise programme or routine.
- Avoid contact with other irritants such as aerosolised products, insecticides, cleaning products, mold, dust, and mildew.
- Prevent infections by making regular sanitisation a part of life.