Environmental pollution: one of the major causes for increasing asthma prevalence in children, says HCFI

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Proper management and correct use of inhalers are key to prevent attacks

New Delhi, 6th May 2019: According to the World Health Organization, about 80% of asthma deaths occur in the low and lower-middle-income countries. Of the estimated 1.5 to 2 crore asthma patients around the world, at least 1 in every 10 lives in India. A recent study also indicates that about 35% of preschoolers in the country exhibit asthma symptoms. While two-thirds outgrow the symptoms in later years, about 16.67% continue to suffer.

On World Asthma Day, the need of the hour is to raise awareness on the fact that environmental pollution is emerging as a big risk factor for the condition, especially among children. The theme for World Asthma Day this year is ‘STOP for Asthma’. STOP expands into Symptom evaluation, Test response, Observe and assess, and proceed to adjust treatment. It is imperative to educate patients on proper management and correct use of inhalers.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “It is important to understand the working of airways to understand asthma. The airways are tubes that carry air into and out of the lungs. In people with asthma, these airways are inflamed, which makes them swollen and very sensitive. Due to this, the airways react strongly to certain inhaled substances, which causes the muscles around them to tighten. As a result, the airways become narrow causing less air to flow into the lungs. The cells in the airways might make more mucus than usual. All these can result in asthma symptoms, which can occur each time the airways are inflamed. 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.”

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-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Airway sensitivity is going up among people in both rural and urban areas due to sustained exposure to a combination of triggers. Asthma requires continuous medical care and those with moderate-to-severe asthma must take long-term medicines such as anti-inflammatory drugs. These should be taken every day to prevent symptoms and attacks. Short-term medicines such as inhaled short-acting beta2-agonists are also used for quick relief of asthma symptoms.”

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.

OCD vis-a-vis Perfectionism

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Obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD as it is commonly referred as is driven by perfectionism, but they are not the same.

People with OCD are aware that their behavior is problematic but cannot prevent that particular behavior. People who are perfectionists don’t care, it makes their lives orderly.

OCD is a mental health disorder that involves repeated, unwanted thoughts that cause anxiety or fear. And, to eliminate this anxiety, the person does a compulsive action that may or may not be related to the fear or anxiety, to cope. OCD may be of several types; attention to details or checking frequently to see if the door is locked or people have fears of germs or there may be a need to count things or it may just be an obsessive thought that they cannot get out of their head. People with OCD comprehend that their actions are irrational, but they are unable to stop. At times, it may even be incapacitating to the concerned individual.

A person who is a perfectionist, may also have habits or actions that they adhere to strictly such as a certain morning routine or a way of organizing their desk at work. But these actions are not necessarily due to anxiety. Things done in a certain way work out just fine for such persons. This personality trait is usually associated with good organization and goal-oriented behavior.

A healthy perfectionism may drive some people to achieve excellence; but, these high standards can also drive people to be extremely critical of themselves and others.

There is a very fine line between OCD and perfectionism. The individual is usually the last one to know when this line is crossed.

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Past National President IMA