Health and Wellness

Pediatric asthma affects a large number of urban school-going children in India

New Delhi, XX May 2018: As per a recent study, about 35% of preschoolers exhibit the symptoms of asthma in India. While two-thirds outgrow the symptoms in later years, about 16.67% continue to suffer. While environmental factors such as pollution may be at play here, lifestyle also can contribute to asthma in childhood. About 1 in 10 Indian children suffer from asthma.
Although childhood or pediatric asthma is the most common serious chronic disease in infants and children, it is often difficult to diagnose. Some children get symptoms only when exercising or playing a sport. This is called exercise-induced bronchospasm. Childhood asthma cannot be cured but with the right medications and treatment plan, it is possible to control the symptoms.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Asthma is a disorder caused by inflammation in the airways (called bronchi) that lead to the lungs. This inflammation causes airways to tighten and narrow, which blocks air from flowing freely into the lungs, making it hard to breathe. There is no specific reason for the development of asthma in children. However, there are several triggers such as dust, air pollution, and exposure to secondhand smoke. Pediatric asthma is one of the major reasons for absenteeism from school. In most children, asthma develops before 5 years of age, and in more than half, asthma develops before 3 years of age.”
Some symptoms of asthma in children include wheezing (whistling sound) when breathing, coughing, rapid and labored breathing, complaints of chest hurting, reduced energy, and feeling weak or tired.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “Diagnosing asthma in children can be difficult and time-consuming. This is because of the pattern of symptoms. It is possible to prevent flare ups by making changes to the child’s diet as also avoiding exposure to environmental pollutants as far as possible. The goals of asthma therapy are to prevent children from having chronic and troublesome symptoms and reduce the need for emergency hospitalization.”
Some tips from HCFI
• Prevent exposure to dust mites. These are tiny insects and one of the most common asthma triggers. They tend to live in beds, carpeting, upholstered furniture and soft toys. It is important to keep all these things dust free.
• Restrict the child’s contact with pets especially if he/she is allergic.
• Maintain a healthy weight and encourage good eating habits. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in their diet.
• Avoid exposure to smoke. Expectant mothers should quit smoking altogether as this is one of the major risk factors for development of asthma in children.
• Breastfeed your infant. This will increase immunity and help ward off potential complications.

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