Deadly 'Cold' on the Rise in the State

It’s not just lung cancer and other known ailments that smokers need to worry about. The latest malady to enter the scene is a new, and relatively unknown monster called Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COLD).

Published: 05th May 2014 08:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th May 2014 10:29 AM   |  A+A-

It’s not just lung cancer and other known ailments that smokers need to worry about. The latest malady to enter the scene is a new, and relatively unknown monster called Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COLD). A respiratory ailment caused by smoking which eventually suffocates the patient to a slow but sure death. Pulmonologists say that COLD cases are on the rise in the state surpassing lung cancer which is one of the major ailments affecting smokers. 

Since it is a progressive disease, even when the smoker stops smoking, a small fall in the intensity of the disease will be noticed, but a complete cure, cannot be guaranteed, said  Dr Praveen Valsalan, consultant pulmonary secretary, Cochin Thoracic Society. He said that fifty percent of the patients frequenting him in a day are COLD patients.  “Figures will definitely increase as there are many patients who consult a physician even without realising that they need the help of a pulmonologist,” he said.

COLD generally starts as a mild breathlessness. “Its intensity builds up in a span of four to five years. Gradually, the situation gets worsened to such an extent that the patient will be unable to even take a step further. This mounts more pressure on the heart leading to heart ailments as well,” said  Dr Babu John Mathew, Consultant General Physician, Medical Trust Hospital.

He pointed out that it will be the right side of the heart which will be affected primarily.  Eventually the capacity of the lungs will weaken drastically that it will not be able to suck oxygen from the air and expel carbon-dioxide, he said.

To make matters worse, COLD not only affects active smokers but passive smokers as well. There are around 70 chemicals in the smoke lingering in the air. The World Health Organisation ( WHO) estimates that among the six million smokers, six hundred thousand COLD patients are passive smokers. “ Things are not rosy in Kerala either,” said Dr Mathew. Sadly, many are not aware of this deadly disease.

The doctors feel that the awareness campaign undertaken against smoking should be strengthened. “There is a picture of lungs on the cigarette pack with a warning that ‘Cigarette smoking is injurious to health.’ But when I ask my patients, there are more than 10 patients who cannot understand that it is a lung shown, says Dr. Mathew. Hence, the campaign against smoking should be intense and it should hit the nail on the head. 

Education, law and order, intense campaign through media and increasing the price of cigarettes are the major alternatives to prevent any ailment pertaining to smoking,” he added.



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