Vehicular pollution is the major reason for increase in asthma cases, say city doctors on World Asthma Day which falls on the first Tuesday of May every year (May 6).
A majority of respiratory physicians in the city say that out of the total number of out-patients, around 50 per cent suffer from asthma. It is a lung disease that narrows the airways thereby causing recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, and cough that normally occurs at night or early in the morning.
“Around 10 to 15 per cent of the Indian population has asthma and children comprise a majority of it,” says S.C. Vivekanandan, Pulmonologist, Government Rajaji Hospital.
“Though it is not a deadly disease, it may lead to fatal situations if not treated regularly. Asthma can be easily treated and doctors all over the world prescribe inhalers,” he adds.
M. Palaniappan, Senior Consultant for asthma and lung diseases, says, “Around 10,000 litres of air must be inhaled per day to provide the body with 420 litres of oxygen. But, rapid urbanisation had led to significant deterioration of air that we breathe. Although asthma is a genetic disease, environment plays a vital role in its prevalence,” he adds.
R. Prabhakaran, Respiratory physician says, “Asthma affects people of all ages. It can be due to genetic predisposition or allergies caused by tobacco smoke, indoor and outdoor dust, pollen, and viral infection. Taking treatment from a chest physician after thorough diagnosis can bring relief.”
Increased intake of fresh green vegetables and reducing salt intake will assist the patients. Further, omega 3 fatty acid which is a healthy source of protein will reduce inflammation of lungs, say physicians.
Dr. Prabhakaran observes that children with a weak immune system are vulnerable to the disease as they are exposed to harmful gases every day.
Though asthma is not curable, the affected persons can be made to feel normal through long-term control and quick relief medicines. An inhaler allows the medicine to go directly to the lungs and it has no side-effects, the pulmonologist says.
“The best therapy is aerosol. An inhaler costs about Rs.400 and it can be used for one to two months depending on the severity of asthma and the dosage prescribed,” Dr. Prabhakaran adds.
Those who were having continuous cough and wheezing for long periods will have to consult a pulmonologist for correct diagnosis.
All wheezes are not asthma but at the same time it cannot be neglected, doctors caution.