When Pulmonary Function Test is Available, Should we Wait for the COPD Symptoms to Develop? OE08-OE12
Dr. Varshil Mehta,
103, Sky High Tower, Orlem, Tank Road, Malad West, Mumbai-400064, Maharashtra, India.
Adolescent smokers are more likely to be addicted to nicotine and develop a chronic habit. Chronic smoking has a direct impact on quality of life and life expectancy. Repeated environmental exposure and smoke inhalation can be deleterious to health. In order to evaluate the core functioning of the lungs, Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) are conducted. This panel of tests should be advised for all patients complaining of shortness of breath. Since clinical features resulting from chronic smoking tend to appear late in the course of the disease, PFTs are immensely useful for early identification of abnormalities in asymptomatic adult smokers. Numerous studies have shown that normal PFT parameters begin to deteriorate immediately after smoking is initiated. However, most physicians prefer to wait for characteristic signs and symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to develop before proceeding with PFTs in the patients. This leads to inadvertent and often dangerous delay in reaching a definitive diagnosis and initiating treatment. Therefore, we undertook this review to determine whether conducting PFTs in asymptomatic adult smokers can facilitate the early detection and/or prevention of COPD. We reviewed and analyzed articles from PubMed, Google Scholar, Index Medicus, WHO Global Health Library and Scopus, which specifically demonstrated the presence of abnormal PFT changes in asymptomatic adult smokers. With PFTs, we now have the advantage of diagnosing early changes in the lung volumes. Hence, we conclude that PFTs should be performed early in smokers and cessation of smoking should be encouraged to check the increasing incidence of COPD.