Friday, September 18th, 2009

Breathe Easy

Every year change of season particularly the transition from spring to summer and autumn to winter is marked with increased episodes of asthma in people. Besides, change of seasons, pollution from the city traffic too makes asthma worse. Dr R.K. Maini, Director Pulmonology with Artemis Hospital says, “Post Diwali, we notice an increase in the number of asthma patients, not only due to change in the season but also due to air pollution.”

Asthma has no cure. Of-course, we can control it. When asthma strikes, breathing becomes an exercise. It feels like deep breathing very cold air.

Asthma is a chronic condition that occurs when the main air passages of our lungs, the bronchial tubes, become inflamed. The muscles of the bronchial walls tighten and extra mucus is produced that narrows airways.

o Since late 1980s we have witnessed an increase in the number of asthma patients and death rate owing to this condition.
o The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 100 to 150 million people around the world are asthmatic and the number is growing by 50% every decade.
o Asthma affects about one or two kids out of 10. Asthma can start at any age – even in a little baby or an adult – but it’s most common in school-age kids.
o Wheezing is one sign of childhood asthma, but recurrent cough gives a stronger clue. Dr. Sushila Kataria, Consultant Internal Medicine, Umkal Hospital, says, “Bronchial asthma camouflages itself as childhood chest infections. If a child coughs to the point of throwing up, asthma may be a possibility.”
o What causes asthma eludes doctors. However, there are some definite answers. Women who smoke during pregnancy have a greater likelihood to have asthmatic children. Other culprits are carpeted flooring, less ventilation and mold. Asthma runs in families too.

o Medication is not the only way to control asthma. It is also important to avoid asthma triggers—stimuli that irritate and inflame the airways. Regular cold exacerbates asthma.

Trigger factors

o Tobacco smoke

o Exposure to chemical irritants

o Indoor allergens

o Low birth weight

o Cold air

o Extreme emotional expression

o Physical exercise

Dr. Sushila Kataria enlists the symptoms

o Cough especially dry cough
o Breathlessness
o Wheezing, which feels like breathing with a straw
o In severe forms sufferer may feel drowsy too.

Managing asthma

  1. For asthma management she suggests to look for the precipitating factors, because asthma is an individual disease.
  2. Avoid exposure to allergens, swipe dusty surfaces; expose pillows and mattresses to sunlight, once in a while.
  3. Treating upper respiratory tract infections—common cold promptly. Do not allow a sneeze turn in a wheeze.
  4. Use of inhalational bronchodilators
  5. Avoid breathing very cold air directly and tie a scarf on your mouth.
  6. Stay indoors on chilly mornings.

Researchers have applauded the anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin C for asthma management. Losing weight, eating tomatoes, as it has lycopene— an antioxidant, may help you breathe easy.

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