India has witnessed a huge rise in asthma in the past decade, especially among children, due to a spike in environmental pollution, experts have said.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disorder due to inflammation of the airways in our lungs. Some of the common symptoms of asthma include breathlessness, tightness in the chest, and night cough.
Over 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma that affects people of all ages and groups, with one-tenth of those living in India.
The surge has been blamed on various causes ranging from allergies to environmental pollution.
“Incidence of asthma is on a rise because of recent changes in our global environment — increasing air pollution and dust particulate matter,” said Anshum Aneja Arora, consultant at W-Pratiksha Hospital in Gurgaon.
According to a poll conducted by Curofy — India’s largest community of doctors, 82 percent doctors say there has been an increased asthma incidence in children due to increased environmental pollution.
While 11 percent of the doctors polled blamed second and first hand smoking, seven percent chose genetic predilection as the leading cause for increased childhood asthma.
“A large chunk of younger generation is suffering from asthma which is a matter of great concern,” Nipun Goyal, co-founder at Curofy, said while emphasising the need to control environmental pollution to save the younger generation from the chronic disease.
A recent review analysis of 15 epidemiological studies showed that the mean prevalence of asthma among children was 7.24 percent.
This imposes a human and economic burden on not only the family of an asthmatic but also the nation, experts rued.
While asthma is more common among young boys as compared to girls, the severity of asthma attack is generally more severe in women as compared to men.
“Women having asthma must be careful as they suffer a severe form of asthmatic attack when compared to men. This is majorly due to the female hormonal changes. This make asthma more severe in women and ability to breathe can be affected by menstrual cycle, pregnancy and eventually menopause,” said Randeep Guleria, head of department, pulmonology and sleep disorder at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.
What is more, asthma can also affect fertility, experts warned.
“Women with asthma may take more time to get pregnant and have a lower pregnancy rate than those without the lung diseases,” observed Archana Dhawan Bajaj, gynaecologist and obstetrician at Nurture IVF Centre in New Delhi.
She suggested that women with asthma should conceive at an early age and step up their asthma treatment before getting pregnant.
“Self management is a necessity among asthma patients. Young children may not necessarily understand the chronic nature of their disease or how asthma is affecting their lives in a negative manner,” Sandeep Nayar from BLK Hospital, said while emphasising on the need for effective management of asthma.
“Parents should make sure they make their young ones well aware about the disease and also teach them steps to be followed during emergency,” Nayar added.
“Inhalation therapy for asthma is recognised as the most preferred form of treatment worldwide, with developed countries like the US and Britain adopting inhalers as an integral part of asthma therapy. This therapy is safe and easy to use for expecting mothers and women who are breastfeeding,” Guleria noted.