World Asthma Day today to focus on controlling disorder

Control your asthma, is the message this year on World Asthma Day, which falls on Tuesday.

This was last year’s theme as well, but is being retained this year, doctors say, as there is still not enough awareness about the condition, especially among women, who are often reluctant to seek treatment.

Though pollution and allergies are still the prime culprits, R. Sridhar, a chest physician at Government Stanley Hospital, said the large number of industries in north Chennai also contributed to the problem. Construction activity in various parts of the city had also increased pollution, he said.

Recently, doctors at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital screened 258 persons in Thirumullaivoyal and found that at least 10 per cent complained of wheezing. . “Further tests need to be done before they can be diagnosed as asthmatic,” said B. Meenakshi, who led the team.

She also said the doctors found an increase in cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, caused by exposure to pollution and vehicle emissions. The hospital has seen a rise in the number of women seeking treatment for wheezing and asthma of late, she added.

According to R. Sridharan of Asthma and Allergy Resource Centre, the prevalence of asthma has gone up by six or seven per cent in the general population.

Dr. Sridharan said that while a lot was being done to create awareness about the condition, some aspects still remained neglected.

“Of late, more women are accepting the fact that they have asthma. However, this does not mean they are coming forward to seek treatment,” he said.

Hormonal changes in women during menstruation also have an effect on asthma, Dr. Sridharan explained. “Every month, as bleeding starts the asthma gets better. By carefully prescribing hormonal pills, such as a combination of progesterone and oestrogen, we can blunt the body’s response to asthma,” he said. Dr. Sridharan also said that anaesthesia used during caesarean procedures could have an effect on the condition, leaving many women struggling to cope. Much more awareness was needed to help treat the condition, especially among women, he added.

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