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Pollution Aggravates Pulmonary Ailments

Bhubaneswar: With Delhi facing an environmental emergency and possible lockdown, the limelight has shifted to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which has been on the rise mainly due to air pollution, experts said here on Wednesday.

Clean air is the crying need almost everywhere as increasing number of COPD patients struggled to breathe and drastic steps were necessary to tackle the situation, they said while addressing a Continuing Medical Education (CME) program held at the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital organised to mark the World COPD Day.

COPD is a common, preventable and treatable non-communicable disease which throws up persistent respiratory symptoms and airflow limitation due to abnormalities in the airway and alveoli. “COPD occurs due to chronic exposure to irritants like dust and smoke while burning of biomass fuel is one of the main causes of the disease in women in the lower socio-economic strata,” Prof. Banani Jena, Head of the department of Pulmonary Medicine in the hospital, said.

Prof. Jena said mostly mine workers, masons and traffic policemen were susceptible to this disease as also farmers who used fertilizers in their fields. “But early diagnosis, removal of pollutants and early treatment is the key to battle this health problem,” she said.

People must also be conscious about indoor burning of mosquito coils and ‘agarbati’ which could result in COPD, she said adding regular exercise,  plenty of water intake and a healthy lifestyle were needed to avoid the disease.

Prof. Gangadhar Sahu, Dean, IMS and SUM Hospital and Prof. Pusparaj Samantasinhar, Medical Superintendent underlined the menace of air pollution saying it had been hugely contributing to rising COPD cases.

While Prof. Sahu regretted the rise in habit of smoking among boys and girls, Prof. Samantasinhar said there was a crying need to save forests and protect the environment to get out of this vicious situation.

Dr. Sthitipragya Dalabehera, Head of the department of Physiotherapy in the hospital said the focus was now on both Covid and COPD patients as it involved the lungs.

The characteristic impact of COPD on the pulmonary system was the inability to effectively remove air from the lungs which in turn affected the ability of the respiratory system eventually leading to functional limitations, she said adding the hospital had been treating COPD patients by adopting the proning process which meant turning a person from their back onto their stomach with precise and safe motions for last 14 years.

The practice was widely adopted to treat Covid-19 patients after the pandemic struck last year.

Among others, Prof. Rakhi Ludam and Prof. Ganesh Mohapatra, Professors in the department of Pulmonary Medicine, Dr. Priyadarshini Behera, Associate Professor, Dr. Sangita Jena, Dr. Sonali Parida, Dr. Pritam Chhotray, Dr. Subhakanta Nanda, all Assitant Professors and Dr. Sonali Mallick, Senior Resident, were present.