Doctor warns of undetected child asthma
Nearly six percent of the Middle East population suffer from asthma, according to the Global Initiative for Asthma, but this figure may be much higher, especially among children, says Belhoul Specialty Hospital Pediatrician Dr Ashok Lodha.
“About 10 to 12 percent of children in Dubai suffer from asthma,” Dr Lodha said. “However this may be just a tip of the iceberg as many patients remain undetected because of lack of awareness in parents and school teachers about asthma symptamatolgy.”
Symptoms of asthma include, nocturnal and morning dry cough, wheezing breath, chest tightness and difficulty in breathing.
“In some patients Asthma can be triggered by physical exertion thereby causing exercise induced Asthma,” Dr Lodha comments. “These symptoms can be caused by certain triggers or allergies in atmosphere which provoke asthma attack. Allergies are airway irritants like cold and dry air, environmental, tobacco smoke, zone, SO2, dust mites, pollens, perfumes, insecticides, mosquito repellents, certain pets like cats and birds and even cold foods like ice cream and soft drinks.”
Dr Lodha says many patients try various cough medicines but find no relief. He recommends a combination of two groups of medicines, relievers and preventers, given in aerosol form by a Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI).
“Reliever MDI are to be used for initial symptoms of asthma and to be continued until symptoms abate,” he says. “They are for curing asthma symptoms, while preventer MDI are to be started with relievers but even after symptoms are over they are to be used for 6-8 weeks to prevent recurrence of asthma attacks.”
Although some parents may be afraid of the side effects of giving young children regular medication, Dr Lodha says MDI’s are very safe, effective and non addictive, because the dose of medicine is aerosolised form, it is very less as compared to tablets, syrup or injection. Medicines reach straight into lungs where it is required. It is not addictive substance and there is no drug dependability.
More than 70 percent of children asthma sufferers outgrow the disease; however, patients with symptoms beyond 10 years become asthmatic adults also.
Belhoul Speciality Hospital will soon be undertaking an Asthma awareness programme. The hospital suggests child asthmatics should:
1. Attend school regularly
2. Participate fully in sports of choice
3. Sleep well, eat well
4. Experience little or no side effects from asthma therapy
Belhoul Speciality Hospital is located in Al Khaleej Road in Deira and can be contacted on 04 273 3333.