Karnataka lost 9,655 lives in a single year to digestive disorders, reveals the Medical Certification of Cause of Death (MCCD) report published in 2014. Going by the report, out of 1,46,286 medically certified deaths in the state that year, 6.6% were caused due to digestive disorders.
Not just that, digestive disorders happen to be the eighth leading cause of deaths in the state as well as in the country; they account for 4.4% of medically certified deaths in India. The report is a compilation of various causes of deaths in India by MCCD a registry under the Union home ministry.
Blaming late detection, ignorance among patients and low socio-economic conditions as primary factors leading to the worrying trend, city gastroenterologists have raised concerns about the disorders on the eve of World Digestive Health Day, celebrated by World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) on May 29 every year.
Stating that nearly 60% of patients in Karnataka suffer from acidity during the day and the remaining 40% suffer symptoms at night, Dr Avinash B, associate professor at department of gastroenterology at M S Ramaiah Memorial Hospital, said: “Late detection of the disorder is the main cause behind the severity of the condition and large number of fatalities in the state. Most patients with digestive disorders lack awareness and come from low socio-economic backgrounds.“
“If alarming symptoms like vomiting, blood in vomit, difficulty in swallowing, family history of cancer and weight loss are noted early and followed up with early evaluation by a specialist, the disorder can be nipped in the bud,“ he added.
Self-medication may not help
Dr Lawrence Peter, head of gastroenterology department and consultant gastroenterologist at Manipal Hospitals, pointed out that nearly 44% of patients with digestive disorders and acute acidity experiment with self-medication and waste around two months before seeking medical help. “These patients go for self-medication through several home remedies, change in diet and consume over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for at least two months before consulting a doctor. Ignorance, fear and a sense of false safety are to be blamed for this,“ he said.
“ When it comes to acidity , ulcer or cancer, the symptoms often overlap. Only a trained eye can make out the difference. In recent years, there has been a steep rise in the number of pancreatic cancer cases in the city,“ added Dr Naresh Bhat, chief of medical services at Aster CMI Hospital.
Healthy lifestyle a must
Speaking of overcoming the crisis, he added: “Early detection and specialized care are the only ways to fight this. Even the medical fraternity needs to undergo drastic changes in the way its members are educated. The sense of diagnosis as provided by the medicine curriculum should be modified with evolution of diseases.“
“Regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle, with balanced diet and lot of proteins are a must to avoid digestive disorders. Avoid too much of alcohol and go for screening and ultrasound of the abdomen at least once a year. Specific tests in the form of endoscopy , colonoscopy are needed only if somebody has symptoms pertaining to the digestive organs,“ said Dr Dinesh Kini, director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Sakra World Hospital.