COPD cases rising alarmingly

November 16, 2017

The Himalayan Times, 16 Nov 2017 

The number of patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is alarmingly increasing in Kathmandu Valley.

According to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, more than 70 per cent of patients visiting the hospital are found suffering from the disease. Around 100 patients visit the hospital every day.  “In addition, 40 per cent of patients admitted to the hospital are found suffering from the disease,” said Dr Niraj Bam, assistant professor, Department of Pulmonology and Critical Care Medicine, TUTH.

The primary cause of COPD is exposure to tobacco smoke. Combustion of fuels such as cow dung, wood and pollution also cause COPD, according to Dr Subodh Sagar Dhakal, associate professor,  Kathmandu Medical College and Teaching Hospital.

According to doctors, the number of COPD patients are on the rise in Kathmandu Valley due to increasing pollution and population density.

“As people are living in confined spaces, they are more likely to suffer from the disease.  In addition, the disease is exacerbated in people who already are suffering from respiratory diseases,” added Dr Dhakal.

“COPD is seasonal. It becomes acute during winter when patients need to increase their regular dose of medication. There is less rainfall in the winter season because of which the particulate matter increase in the air and cause bacterial and viral infections,” said Dr Karbir Nath Yogi, Department of Respiration, TUTH.

Similarly, there is an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air due to which patients are likely to develop hypoxia — a condition marked by insufficient supply of oxygen to the cells and tissues of the body because of COPD.

COPD has become a real threat to people who are exposed to dust and smoke as the disease can cause irreversible damage to lungs. Doctors have advised people to quit smoking, use alternative energy for cooking and wear surgical masks to prevent themselves from the negative effects of pollution.

As per World Health Organisation, total deaths from COPD are projected to increase by more than 30 per cent in the next 10 years unless urgent action is taken to reduce the underlying risk factors, especially tobacco use.

Estimates show that COPD would become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030. The Global Burden of Disease Study reports a prevalence of 251 million cases of COPD globally in 2016.