Air pollution can increase the chances of bronchiolitis in children

3:04 pm Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India

Elevated levels of PM 2.5 can lead to reduced immunity

New Delhi, 16thApril 2018: Exposure to tiny air pollution particles even for a brief period can lead to acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) in young children, as per a recent study. Elevated levels of PM2.5- pollution-causing particles, about 3% of the diameter of human hair, can affect newborns, toddlers, and adults alike. The most common ALRI in children is Bronchiolitis.

Bronchiolitis is a condition in which small breathing tubes in the lungs called bronchioles become infected and clogged with mucus. Air pollution can make the human body more susceptible to infection or impair its ability to fight off infectious agents.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President HCFI, and Immediate Past President Indian Medical Association, said, “Bronchiolitis is caused by a virus known as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), spread through tiny droplets of liquid from the coughs or sneezes of someone who’s infected. Bronchioles control airflow in the lungs. In case of an infection or damage, they can swell or become clogged blocking the flow of oxygen. Though it primarily affects children, adults may also develop this condition. There is no need for any specific medication and the infection usually clears up within two weeks. Most children can be cared for at home in the same way that a cold is treated.”

For the first few days, the symptoms resemble that of a common cold and include runny and stuffy nose, cough, and slight fever. This is followed by a week or more of difficulty in breathing or wheezing. Many infants may develop an ear infection.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “There are no vaccines for the most common causes of bronchiolitis (RSV and rhinovirus). However, it is recommended to give all children older than 6 months an annual flu shot. Infants at a high risk of the RSV infection, such as those born very prematurely or with a heart-lung condition or a depressed immune system, may be given the medication palivizumab to decrease the likelihood of RSV infections.”

Some HCFI tips.

Limit contact with people who have a fever or cold. If your child is a newborn, especially a premature newborn, avoid exposure to people with colds in the first two months of life.

Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that people frequently touch, such as toys and doorknobs. This is especially important if a family member is sick.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue while coughing or sneezing.

Use your own drinking glass. Don’t share glasses with others, especially if someone in your family is ill.

Frequently wash your own hands and those of your child. Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer handy for yourself and your child when you’re away from home.

Respiratory infections are significantly less common in breast-fed babies.

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