Breathing problems on the rise

Breathing problems on the rise

There is a 20 per cent increase in cases of youngsters suffering from respiratory ailments like asthma

Youngsters are more prone to breathing ailments as their immunity levels are lower.Inhalers are a common treatment and relief option.

Respiratory illnesses are on a rise among children and teenagers in Bengaluru. Children from the ages of six to 18 are ailing from asthma, allergies and respiratory ailments now. Dr Sachin Kumar, senior consultant (pulmonology), Sakra World Hospital, notes that breathing problems among youngsters have risen by almost 20 percent in the last decade.

“Compared to Delhi, Bengaluru is the second asthma capital of India. It is increasingly becoming the hub of allergies. Increasing pollution and perennial construction in the city are the biggest contributers for this. The city’s changing climate also triggers pollen allergies,” he details. Youngsters are more prone to such ailments as their immunity levels are much lower. “With constant exposure to such elements, they easily fall sick, while older individuals might not necessarily suffer as much,” he says. 

Increased exposure to smoking due to peer pressure is also common among adolescents, says Dr Sachin. “Passive or second-hand smoking is also becoming a trigger.” 

Pollution control and implementation of stricter rules at construction sites will lower such risks, he adds. “At an individual level, understanding what triggers the allergy or discomfort helps. Preventive vaccinations can also be taken. Those who have a family history should visit doctors much in advance,” he says. 

Dr P Jagadeesh Kumar, consultant pulmonologist, Apollo Hospitals points out that there has been a 70 percent increase in detection of cases, which helps deal with the situation better.

“The reasons for an increase in cases includes indoor air pollution, which not many are aware of.  Exposure to house dust mites, dust from the fans and unclean A/C filters and carpets and leaky taps, which lead to moisture and molds, trigger allergies,” he says. 

Pollution is being cited as a major reason for breathing ailments. “It could be contributing to 70 percent of the problems,” he adds. Dr Jagadeesh agrees that there is a 20 percent hike in breathing ailments among youngsters. Respiratory infections can be viral and bacterial, he adds.

“While many use home remedies, they do not work for infections which are often accompanied with fever. One should immediately visit a doctor. Remedies like using steam or honey drops for mild nasal congestions and irritation is fine but if the condition persists one should seek medical help,” he says. 

The most commonly observed respiratory ailments among children are asthma and viral infections, adds Dr Jagadeesh. For respiratory well-being, one needs to practise good breathing techniques, says Dr Asha Kumra K, a general physician.

“Simple deep breathing exercises like counting breath or holding it while chanting ‘Om’ can help. Maintaining a good posture is important for good respiratory health. Staying active is also important,”  she says. 

Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, chief clinical dietician says that healthy lungs also depend on the food that one eats. “Oily fish which contain Omega- 3 fatty acids improves lung health. Fruits and vegetables like apples, apricots, broccoli, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, are important. Having enough proteins also helps. Maintaining hydration is a must,” she says.

‘Prevent rather than treat’ 

“Our aim is to detect cases earlier, provide health education and prevent than treat. Immuno-therapy and vaccinations are also common. Targeted therapy is another advancement.  Bronchial thermoplasty is being used to cure asthma. Inhalers are increasingly used, for relief and disease modifying.”

 -- Dr Sachin Kumar, senior consultant (pulmonology), Sakra World Hospital