Surprisingly COPD is more common in women than men. Literally, 37% of women are more likely to have COPD than men. It is also reported that more than half of all deaths due to COPD in the United States were women. Hence, women are at a higher risk for COPD than men.
COPD in Women
Back in the past, COPD was thought to be a “man’s disease”. It appeared to strike white older men more than any other group. The US marines’ rations were inclusive of cigarettes for many years and the famous pictures of the Marlboro Man supported the association between smoking and men.
However, even though the Marlboro Man represented the look of a rugged, male smoker, smoking was a favorite among women too. Incidentally the Marlboro Man also died of COPD later on. Currently, 18.3% of the adult female population in the USA are smokers. It is low compared to 1950s where it was estimated to be 40 to 45%. As per American Lung Association, the increase of COPD in women is mainly due to the successful marketing of the tobacco industry. In the 20th century women did not smoke, but by mid century it grew due to advertisements targeting women.
Despite the drop in smoking rate, COPD is still considered to be a big health risk for women. In addition, most women are not diagnosed and treated early in comparison to men. COPD is also the 4th leading cause of death in women.
Why are Women Affected More?
Mainly due to women’s lungs being smaller than the men, irritants such as dust, fumes and cigarette smoke get into the lungs and absorbed quickly. Later on, these elements can cause COPD symptoms in women.
It has also been researched that women with COPD are 1.5 times more probable of being affected with COPD for not having smoked at all than men. This shows that women are more prone to lung damage than men. Another cause of COPD is secondhand smoke, air pollution exposures in the workplace such as industrial and agricultural dust or fumes.
Estrogen is an essential female hormone that breaks down nicotine (an addictive element found in tobacco products) faster than the lungs could get rid of it. The continuous presence of nicotine in the lungs will aggravate lung damage.
The Good News
There is also hope and good news to women to avoid being struck with COPD. .Women who quit smoking get their lung function back earlier than men.
Discovering the ailment early and taking medical treatment promptly can make a big change in curtailing the disease and fast recovery. However, it is not easy to get a precise identification of women affected with COPD as they do not seek help or treatment early.
Having a chronic cough with mucus, regularly being out of breath, wheezing or tightness of the chest are some symptoms that should be taken very gravely.
A wide range of oxygen therapy is available for hire or purchase at Oxygen Solutions to assist patients suffering from COPD.