3 May 2022
Respiratory diseases, primarily Asthma, continues to be the most underrated and under-diagnosed ailment in our country even as the upsurge of patients affected with breathing ailments continues to mount every year, especially since the onset of covid 19. Many factors have contributed to an upsurge in asthma cases be it the rising pollution levels, long covid effect on the lungs or stubble burning. With the ‘parali’ or harvesting season currently underway in North India, cases of Bronchial Asthma have witnessed a sharp increase. To raise awareness on respiratory diseases, World Asthma Day is observed on the first Tuesday of May every year.
Dr. Zafar Ahmad Iqbal, Director, Pulmonology, Critical Care and Sleep Studies, Fortis Hospital Mohali, in an advisory explains how to safeguard one’s health from Bronchial Asthma and related treatment options.“Cases of Asthma increase every year during the stubble burning season, usually from May-September. Nearly 10 patients visit Fortis Mohali every day with respiratory-related problems during this period. Dr Zafar further elaborates on Understanding the early symptoms of Asthma and observing the necessary precautions
What is Bronchial Asthma?
Bronchial asthma is a chronic condition affecting children and adults. In fact, it is the commonest cause of chronic disease in children.The air passage of an asthmatic patient swells up due to inflammation and tightening of the airway muscles, causing narrowing of the airway lumen.
The symptoms include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness. These are usually triggered by some offending agent, including common cold, dust, perfumes, food articles, pollen, change of weather, exercise etc. Untreated or under-treated asthma leads to poor quality of life, including sleep disturbances, inability to do heavy or routine work, poor work performance, poor growth and mental development in children and repeated hospitalization. Deaths can happen in patients in acute exacerbation with co-morbidities.
Who is at risk?
Asthma is not a curable disease as it runs in families in genes. It is, however, controllable. It is seen in siblings, close relatives, in those with a history of allergies, urticaria, rhinitis, nasal polys, obese or overweight children and adults. Urbanization and environmental pollution have contributed to the increased prevalence of the disease.
Bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids are given through the inhalation route as these have negligible side effects. Inhaler technique is also ensured for the appropriate drug delivery to the lungs. Partially or untreated cases get exacerbated when there is worsening of asthma symptoms. This may damage the lung permanently. Injections such as Biologics are given once every 15 days to two months. Bronchoscopic interventionslike Bronchial Thermoplasy is also a new technology to treat asthma.
Diet and Exercises
To manage asthma, one has to observe for any offending or triggering food item and avoid it completely. Balanced nutritious diet should be a routine. Yoga and breathing exercises should be incorporated in our daily life routine to keep the lung capacity at its best.