Tamil Nadu

Asthma cases in Chennai double in 5 years

Outdoor pollution considered the primary cause

The incidence of asthma has almost doubled in the last five to six years in the city.

Specifically, incidence of childhood asthma has also gone up, mainly due to outdoor pollution. To reduce vehicular pollution, doctors stress on improving public transportation.

“Nearly seven years ago, the Respiratory Foundation of India undertook a study through the chest disease screening camps organised by Rotary International. Then, the incidence was 5 to 7% in the urban population. However, in the last five to six years, this has doubled to 10 to 15% in the city,” R. Narasimhan, senior consultant-pulmonologist, Apollo Hospitals, told reporters on Tuesday.

Childhood asthma is on the increase, noted A. Balachander, consultant paediatric pulmonologist, Dr. Mehta Children’s Hospital.

“The incidence is around 15%. I see 15 to 25 new cases of childhood asthma every month. Outdoor pollution is the main cause. When children travel to school in the morning, they have to go through the traffic on the road. They are exposed to dense smoke and pollution. There are other factors too such as dust mites and seasonal viral infections,” Dr. Balachander explained.

Dr. Narasimhan said mushrooming of flats has contributed to increased pollution. “Big houses in the city are getting converted into flats. So, a place that had one house has 100 to 120 flats with basement car parking. Outdoor pollution, in this way, has become indoor pollution,” he said. The number of vehicles plying on the city roads has increased manifold, he said, adding, “The best way to reduce vehicular pollution is by increasing public transport. Reliance on public transport should improve. Train and bus services should be increased.”

Inhaler use

The pulmonologists observed that use of steroid inhalers for asthma had gone up, indicating better acceptance levels among the people.

“What is disheartening is that patients do not take inhalers regularly as advised by the physicians. There are many myths. Many think inhalers are not safe, they are an addiction-prone method of treatment and causes growth stunting in children. A lot of studies have disapproved that inhalers do not prevent growth,” he said. Currently, the compliance level of steroid inhalers was about 15 to 20%.

Dr. Balachander pointed out that in inhaler therapy, the dosage of medication is very low. The doctors insisted that physicians should spend time with patients/parents of asthmatic children to explain the condition and use of inhaler therapy.

Cipla launched a campaign #BerokZindagi on Tuesday. Actor Priyanka Chopra, an asthmatic herself, will feature in the campaign. Nithya Balasubramanian, vice president, Marketing-Respiratory, Cipla Ltd, was present.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 1:22:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/asthma-cases-in-city-double-in-5-years/article24866869.ece

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