Asthma alarm for children

Fits of dry cough at night, disturbed sleep, lack of energy on the playground and frequent bouts of cold are all alarm bells for asthma in children, doctors warned on the eve of World Asthma Day.

By Chandreyee Ghose in Calcutta
  • Published 1.05.18
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Calcutta: Fits of dry cough at night, disturbed sleep, lack of energy on the playground and frequent bouts of cold are all alarm bells for asthma in children, doctors warned on the eve of World Asthma Day.

Nearly 10 per cent children aged six to eight years have been detected with asthma in the city in the past three years, paediatrician Ritabrata Kundu, a professor at the Institute of Child Health, said on Monday. Even two decades ago, Kundu's chamber would see around 25 patients a day. The number has nearly tripled.

Infants, too, are being diagnosed with asthma, Kundu said, blaming smoker parents for early onset of the disease.

Early detection and treatment can help children with asthma lead a normal life but it is not so easy as not all kids suffer from shortness of breath - the symptom most associated with the condition

"Thirty years ago, when I opened an asthma clinic, parents were wary of introducing kids to inhalers. But now asthma has become an acceptable diagnosis. Regular use of inhalers can keep asthma under control in children and help them engage in sports and other activities," Kundu said.

Pulmonologist Subhra Mitra, the head of the chest medicine department at Calcutta National Medical College, blamed pollution, stress and obesity for rise in asthma among teenagers.

"Pollution and emotional upheavals are making adolescent girls prone to the disease. In case of boys, the attacks often surface after 30," he said.

If neglected for long, asthma can affect the lungs or develop into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), doctors said.

Many children suffer despite timely intervention because of faulty use of inhalers. "An asthma clinic needs to have a nurse who can show patients or their family members how to use an inhaler the right way. Otherwise the problem can get aggravated despite medication, Kundu said.

Parents of kids diagnosed with asthma need to make some lifestyle changes, according to doctors. "They should cut down on use of perfumes, stay away from pollution-prone areas and stop using mosquito coils. Most importantly, they should not smoke in front of the child," they said.