Tuesday, 25 January, 2022
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Nepal sees rise in COPD cases



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By Mahima Devkota, Kathmandu, Nov.17: Nepal is observing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) day today, with the slogan 'Without breathing, there is no existence of food, shelter, and clothing' with an aim to generate awareness on the disease.

A total of 11.7 per cent of the population have been detected with COPD in Nepal so far. The ratio was below 10 per cent only five years ago.

According to the report of Nepal Health Research Council (NHRC), 6.2 per cent of COPD patients were reported in Province 1, 16.4 per cent in Province 3, 11.7 per cent in Bagmati Province, 6 per cent in Gandaki Province, 9.5 per cent in Lumbini Province, 25.1 per cent in Karnali Province and 14.3 per cent in the Sudur Paschim Province.

Similarly, health experts have warned that the number of COPD patients has been increasing in Nepal, however, with some changes in lifestyle, the disease can be managed well.

Dr. Achyut Bhakta Acharya, pulmonologist at Norvic International Hospital, said that COPD was a chronic respiratory disease related to the airway and lungs. This causes shortness and difficulties in breathing, he added.

"The number of COPD patients is increasing in Nepal. The number of patients with COPD before five years was below 10 percent," he said while adding that smoking, both active and passive, as well as prolonged exposure, often more than 10-15 years, to indoor smoke, caused COPD.

“COPD does not happen overnight, it’s a long-term exposure and indoor smoking such as smoke from the household fire, factory fire, and chemical mixed fire triggers the disease. Therefore, generally, people above 40 years have been observed with COPD as it takes time to show symptoms. Besides that, air pollution also plays a part,” said Dr. Acharya.

"Often, symptoms of COPD are related to aging, such as difficulty in breathing, coughing, wheezing. Therefore, recognizing the disease and consulting a doctor is recommended. Other symptoms are coughing may be accompanied by white or yellow sputum, chest tightness, blue fingers or tongue, swelling of both legs, and recurrent chest infections," informed Dr. Acharya to the TRN Online.

He further said that COPD is non-curable, however, can be managed well with physical exercise, nutritious food, and timely intake of medicine.

COVID-19 and COPD

According to Dr. Richa Nepal, Consultant Physician at the Department of Internal Medicine of Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, COPD patients categorised as chronic illness, are at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 infection as well as having serious morbidity and even mortality.

Dr. Nepal further said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the habit of wearing masks as well as regular sanitisation, indoor stay amid locked down decreased exposure to air pollution, as a result, acute exacerbation of COPD have been observed to have minimized amid COVID-19 infection.