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

According to a recent study, about 35% of preschoolers exhibit the symptoms of asthma in India. While two-thirds outgrow the symptoms in later years and about 16.67% continue to suffer

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New Delhi: According to a recent study, about 35% of preschoolers exhibit the symptoms of asthma in India. While two-thirds outgrow the symptoms in later years and about 16.67% continue to suffer.

Environmental factors such as pollution and lifestyle can contribute to asthma in childhood. About one in 10 Indian children suffer from asthma.

It is often difficult to diagnose childhood or pediatric asthma which is the most common serious chronic disease in infants and children. Due to exercising or playing a sport some children can develop the symptoms. 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.

Dr KK Aggarwal, President of an NGO called Heart Care Foundation of India said, “Asthma is a disorder caused by inflammation of 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 five years of age, and in more than half, asthma develops before three years of age,” he said.

Some symptoms of asthma in children include wheezing breathing, coughing, rapid and laboured breathing, complaints of chest hurting, reduced energy, and feeling weak or tired.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal 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 Heart Care Foundation of India

· 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 or 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 the development of asthma in children.

· Breastfeed your infant. This will increase immunity and help ward off potential complications.