Broad chest, weak lungs - Are men more prone to respiratory diseases?
- By Dr. Neha Agrawal
The long-standing, chronic afflictionof the respiratory disease is called as COPD, i.e., Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
COPD is the obstruction within the lung tissue, causing improper circulation and entrapment of air. This limits the space for air to move in and out, directly affecting the quality of inhalation. A small reminder here may be necessary - breathing is synonymous with life, why? Because that’s how we get oxygen, which is vital for the functioning of each and every cell within the body. With COPD, the ability to take in oxygen gets compromised increasingly. Continued cough, sputum, and shortness of breath are the main symptoms.
COPD is more common in men. Does it have to do anything with being a male? Not necessarily. No specific link has been established to say that COPD risk is higher for you solely because you are a man. Then, what could it be?
A study conducted in 2011 in USA showed that the number of men who smoke is 5% more than the women who do.
To understand the reason behind this, let us see the primary causes of this disease. Air pollution, some genetic predispositions, frequent acute infections, exposure to harmful chemicals for a long time (usually occupational) - are some of the main causes, and the number one cause is smoking, owing to almost 80-90% of the cases. Park this thought.
Next piece of information is simply revisiting some facts you may already know:
#The gender classification ofsmokers - Men are known to smoke more than women all over the world, not only in numbers, but also in quantity. Whether it is a developing country or a developed one, 2011 studies say there are more male smokers everywhere than female smokers. Not only there are more men who smoke, they smoke for longer periods and more number of cigarettes than female smokers. This may vary from country to country, like India has much less women smokers than USA does, but the difference between the two genders holds true everywhere, only the ratios differ.
#Occupational exposure to harmful chemicals and gases – These are industries of mining, textile, chemical engineering, welding, etc. The number of men working in such industries is way higher than women.
#Air pollution – Men are more exposed to air pollution since they are outdoors more than women. This may not apply to all countries and societies, but is generally true.
Now, we can put the pieces together and understand why COPD is more common in men? Yes, they are at a higher risk because of higher exposure to smoking, pollutants and irritants.
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung diseases and male smokers outnumber women across the world. You can figure out the math here!