Guwahati, Nov 18: As more than 13 million people suffer from serious respiratory condition, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lack of awareness is emerging as the biggest hurdle to contain it.
Elaborating on the syndromes and late diagnosis of the condition, which makes patients' sufferings more, well known chest and ENT surgeons Dr Bhaben Choudhury and Dr Partha Ghosh said yesterday the COPD was assuming grave proportion in the country.
The airways get narrowed and blocked with secretions in a patient with COPD condition and over a period of time, the lung tissue gets permanently damaged. The patient suffers from bouts of coughing and even a little activity makes the person breathless.
The doctors pointed that COPD has so far claimed over 13 million people in the country and the number was fast increasing.
It is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide and is threatening to be among the first three diseases to claim maximum lives by 2020. The doctors said lack of awareness, even among medical practitioners, leads to late diagnosis of the condition and in many cases, the disease goes undetected. ''As a result, the patients suffer a lot when their pain could have been lessened to a great extent with modern medicines with timely diagnosis, '' they added.
The main causes of the disease included smoking, heavy exposure to occupational dust, chemicals and air pollution '' both indoors (in poorly ventilated kitchens) and outdoors. '' The doctors also informed that smoking causes 80 per cent of COPD cases and with India being home to 250 million smokers, the risks were tremendous. Moreover, exposure to 'chullah' smoke is another important cause, they added.
World COPD Day is observed on November 14 worldwide, with the theme 'Breathless, but not helpless', and the Proagjyoti Communication, an information centre and data bank, is collaborating with Cipla company to create awareness about it in Assam.