Asthma season again, kids suffer most

70 per cent of new patients in paediatric OPD at AIIMS exhibit its symptoms

With seasonal change, asthma patients suffer more frequent attacks, said doctors. This is a trend observed annually by medical experts. 

The manifestations are the most severe during March-May and September-November. With World Asthma Day being observed on May 5, doctors said early diagnosis is required so that patients can lead a normal life, including participating in sports. 

In the AIIMS, around 70 per cent of the new patients seen at the outdoor patient department of the paediatric ward every year are found to be suffering from asthma, said a senior paediatrician.

“Of the 500 new patients seen at the OPD every year, 70 per cent patients suffer from asthma problems,” said Dr S K Kabra, Department of Paediatrics, AIIMS.With the follow-up patients, the total number of children who come for check-ups goes up to between 7,000-8,000.  Of these, a significant number of children have manifestations of asthma besides other respiratory problems. 

Patients who are diagnosed with asthma before they are five years old usually recover from it. 

“It is usually a group of diseases, of which asthma is one of the conditions. Usually, these children recover from asthma completely. But for those who show symptoms of asthma after this age, it is a lifelong condition in most cases,” said Dr Kabra. Of the total number of asthma patients here, around 30 per cent are below the age-group of five. People across all age-groups can be affected by asthma but children are most vulnerable to it. In the last six weeks, hospitals have seen a steep rise in asthma cases due to the changing weather conditions, said doctors. Asthma is a condition caused when the breathing tubes called bronchi swell up and go into spasm which causes difficulty in breathing, explained Dr Manoj K Goel, Director, Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute.

This is triggered by high air pollution level, smoking, exposure to biomass burning smoke. These factors can lead to severe asthma in patients.

“A person should consult a doctor who would advise a lung function test depending upon the severity and frequency of asthma attacks,” said Dr Goel.

Medication“If you get an attack of asthma more than twice in the night in a month or more than twice during day time in a week, you need continuous asthma treatment. Inhalers are better than oral drugs,” said Dr K K Aggarwal, Honorary General Secretary, Indian Medical Association.

It is a common myth among patients that the condition worsens with inhalers, said doctors. 

It is important for parents of children suffering from asthma to clean dust regularly from carpet, wall hangings and bookshelves.

Infants who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months have very little chance to develop asthma later in life, said Dr Kabra.

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