Indoor air pollution caused by the use of unhygienic fuels in kitchens without a proper ventilation has been billed as one of the prime reasons for high prevalence of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in rural Bangladesh.
"Our rural women usually cook indoor using an open-fire traditional cooking stove at a small kitchen with biomass fuel, like wood, cow dung and charcoal, without or insufficient ventilation that expose them hugely to COPD," Dr Shamim Ahmed, an associate professor of Pulmonology Department of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) told, reports BSS.
Referring to a study on "Indoor Biomass Fuel Smoke Exposure as a Risk factor for COPD for Women of Rural Bangladesh", he said, one in five rural women are suffering from COPD in a stage of life for neglecting health issues.
The study, published in a medical journal of "Chattagram Maa-O-Shishu Hospital Medical Collage" last year, was carried out among 250 women over 40- year of age under random sampling.
"Though smoking is the most common cause of COPD all over the world, air pollution is playing a similar role in Bangladesh in terms of COPD," Dr Ahmed said.
The physician suggested using kerosene stoves for cooking at a properly ventilated kitchen to avoid suffering from COPD.
"Side by side, we should avoid use of tobacco, exposure to occupational dusts and chemicals and frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood to be freed from the disease," he said.
Noting that most cases of COPD can be prevented by reducing use of tobacco and improving indoor and outdoor air quality, Dr Ahmed urged people quitting smoking to get rid of the COPD, an obstructive lung disease, as 20 percent smokers, especially above 40 years, are likely to attack with COPD while the rate is 50 percent for those who are lifelong smokers.
He also urged the authorities concerned to take necessary steps for creating mass awareness about reducing indoor air pollution across the country especially in rural areas.
Dr Ahmed said the most common symptoms of COPD are sputum production, shortness of breath, wheezing or a whistling or squeaky sound when one breathes, chest tightness and a productive cough.
"Severe COPD can cause other symptoms, such as swelling ankles, feet or legs, weight loss and lower muscle endurance," he added.
COPD treatments include stop smoking, vaccinations, respiratory rehabilitation, inhaled bronchodilators and steroids, long-term oxygen therapy and lung transplantation, he added.