Dr. K Thirupathi
Shortness of breath, immense pressure on the chest and suffocation are some of the most common problems faced by asthmatics. A number of factors, including change in weather, external environmental pollution and genetics are the reasons behind childhood asthma. Though the condition is said to have a genetic predisposition, the recent increase in cases of asthma among children is especially alarming. Another reason for high incidences of asthma in children can be attributed to lack of adequate breast feeding.
While diagnosing asthma in children can be difficult, it is important to be able to identify common symptoms. Many children might not display any of the common symptoms for a very long time before having an attack. Most of the times, a few symptoms are also confused with other respiratory diseases. This is one of the reasons why it becomes more important to spread awareness and also educate people about childhood asthma.
During summers, the humidity levels are generally high, leading to an increase in fungal spores. This can affect patients. Another problem is that of dry dust, which increases in summer. Preservatives in soft drinks and chilled food can also sometimes cause attacks. Even though the number of cases is higher in winter, the number of asthma patient is not that minimal in summer.
Most have cough, phlegm, breathing difficulties, throat pain and chest congestion. So for them it is advisable to avoid cold drinks and iced items, use the air-conditioner at a moderate temperature to keep the humidity levels maintained and avoid going out when the temperature is very high. Patients must ensure that they take their medications irrespective of the season, based on their doctor’s instructions.
Some of the most common symptoms of asthma are:
- Constant coughing made worse by viral infections while the child is asleep or is triggered by exercise or cold air.
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing.
- Problems sleeping due to coughing.
- Chest tightness.
- Grunting during feeding (for infants).
(Dr. K. Thirupathi is Consultant Pulmonologist, SIMS Hospital, Chennai. For more details, one can contact SIMS Hospitals, Guwahati Office at Bhangagarh (opp. to NEMCARE Hospital) or can contact at 9854016303.)