(MENAFN Press) Manama, Bahrain
Local doctors in Bahrain have warned of an alarming rise in the number of young people suffering from the smoking-related lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
COPD, which causes on-going cough, shortness of breath & chest tightness, is normally seen in people over the age of 40 years and is strongly linked to cumulative smoking of cigarettes or shisha.
"We are currently observing people as young as 10 years old smoking, and that has led to a shift in cases suffering from early stages of COPD to younger generations. This is a real challenge, as we know that smokers die 10 years earlier on average. We need to ensure public, "decision- making" school programs, and parents in particular, are well aware of the harm that smoking does “ especially at such a young age," said Dr Reyadh Salman, Consultant Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Ibn Al-Nafees Hospital, Bahrain.
"There are around 1.2 billion smokers worldwide and 80 percent of them are in the developing countries which includes the GCC “ much of this could be attributed to local customs. Many people in the Middle East, for example, don't necessarily smoke cigarettes but are heavy water-pipe (shisha) smokers," added Dr Salman.
Predictions by the World Health Organization warn COPD will be the third leading cause of death globally by 2030, behind heart disease and stroke. Globally prevalence of COPD currently sits at between four and six percent and about 80 percent of cases are linked to cigarette smoking (1).
"What's startling is that COPD used to be more common in males, yet now I see the same number of females suffering from the disease. The number of smokers is increasing globally on a gradual basis, and more and more we are seeing younger people suffering from smoking-related lung problems “ something we should all be concerned about," said Dr Suad Al Monfaradi, Consultant and Head of Respiratory Department, American Mission Hospital, Manama.
"COPD itself is a preventable and treatable disease, and there are many medications available to ease its symptoms. A major problem in treatment is failure to comply with medication regimens, as patients only remember when they become short of breath, or start coughing," added Dr Monfaradi.
Bronchodilators are the corner stone of COPD treatment and are recommended as first line treatment in international COPD guidelines.
Both Dr Salman and Dr Monfaradi have been offering COPD screenings and a series of awareness lectures to the general public, as well as lectures to general practitioners, in order to improve patient outcomes across the country.