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Care at Durdans Hospital for health conditions caused by tobacco use

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Currently in Sri Lanka, 2.1 million people smoke and 12,351 people die annually from smoking which is about 10% of all deaths. Cardiovascular diseases are the most common way of death from tobacco (53%) especially in young (most people start smoking early and the mean age of initiation of daily smoking is 20.6 years).  

Health effects of tobacco are multiple and serious including the development of chronic respiratory problems and even lung and oesophageal cancer. Durdans Hospital ensures organised, comprehensive and compassionate care for such conditions through its dedicated pool of specialists and trained nursing care. Counselling for tobacco cessation is also available at its Executive Wellness Centre.

Durdans Hospital Rare and Complex Diseases Centre In-Charge and Consultant Physician Dr. Champika Gamakarange said: “Tobacco related lung diseases include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema and lung cancer. In addition to this smoking can worsen asthma or cause COPD to coexist with asthma to worsen the symptoms. These are mainly associated with tobacco smoking.”

Smoking predisposes individuals to recurrent lung infections like pneumonia or tuberculosis and even fungal lung infections. It can precipitate acute attacks of exacerbations of other lung conditions like bronchiectasis and fibrotic lung diseases. Cancers of the lung parenchyma, trachea-bronchial tree, pleural layers and even oropharyngeal tract all are related to tobacco use. 

These lung diseases are the effect of direct as well as second hand (passive) smoking. Unfortunately passive smoking has a significant influence in giving rise to health effects and the figures are worrying.  In Sri Lanka, female smokers are much less compared to most European countries. But health hazards are still high due to passive smoking. Children are also exposed to smoking when adult males smoke indoors.  Non-communicable diseases especially cardiovascular conditions like coronary heart disease and stroke are essentially related to smoking, mainly in young males. The impact is so high that it is not only health and family that are of concern but economical loss as well.

Dr. Gamakarange said: “Nicotine in tobacco is responsible for causing addiction. It alters the dopamine and noradrenaline levels in the brain, which in turn change the concentration ability and mood, that many consumers feel as ‘enjoyable’, less anxious and less stressful. This creates the consumer addiction to tobacco. Later the brain adapts and one needs more smoking to have a similar effect, and finally they might become chain smokers. Nicotine patches, lozenges and other similar products are available to help overcome addiction.” Durdans Hospital is Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospital with over 70 years of medical excellence and innovation with established centres of excellence in cardiac, orthopaedic, maternity, paediatric, ophthalmology and oncology, etc. Specialists in every discipline are supported by state-of-the-art radiological and laboratory facilities that assist in accurate diagnosis.  

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