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Risk factors for COPD

In Singapore, COPD mainly affects people over the age of 40 and it is the sixth major cause of death. Its risk factors include:

  1. Cigarette smoking – the No. 1 cause of COPD (80 to 90 per cent of those diagnosed are chronic smokers)
  2. Exposure to secondary smoke
  3. Exposure to chemical fumes, excessive dust and pollutants at work
  4. Recurrent respiratory infections

Treatment for COPD

Doctors will usually prescribe medications which allow the airways to relax and open up (bronchodilators), inhaled corticosteroid medications, and antibiotics to treat COPD symptoms. Oxygen therapy can be considered for severe COPD with chronic respiratory failure.

Though lung damage caused by COPD is irreversible, medication can manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Pulmonary rehabilitation has also been shown to improve effort tolerance and reduce breathlessn​ess a​mong patients with COPD.

“It’s important to maintain a health body weight. If you’re overweight, the extra weight makes it even more difficult to breathe, but if you don’t consume enough calories to replace what you use up on a daily basis, you will end up with wasting of the diaphragm and other pulmonary muscles. And if you are a smoker, stop smokin​g completely,” Dr Ong Thun ​​How​, Senior Consultant, from the Department​ of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine​ at Singapore General Hospital​ (SGH), a member of the ​​​SingHealth​ group, advises.

See previous page​ ​for the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease​ (COPD).

​Ref: Q15