Help your child to take control over Asthma
With the rapid urbanisation and increase in atmospheric pollution, there has been a striking rise of the number of people with asthma in recent years. An estimated 300 million people are currently living with asthma and another 100 million will be added by 2025. Majority of these numbers are attributed to children as asthma likely to develop in childhood. Knowing information and simple procedures can make a big difference to such children's life. As a parent, caregiver, brother, sister, relative, we should help these children to lead a healthy life by controlling asthma.
Around 7 million (5.2 percent) people in Bangladesh are living with asthma. Major victim of asthma in the country is children and estimated 7.4 percent of the total number of children is affected by asthma.
With a view to generating knowledge of asthma, its appropriate care, defensive methods, Bangladesh along with the globe observed "World Asthma Day" on May 4, 2010 with the theme "You can control your asthma". The main purpose was to diminish abrupt attacks, lessen the soreness and miseries of patients with asthma and his/her families.
Asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of airways is presented with wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. It predominantly strikes in childhood. But no one really knows why more and more children are developing asthma. Some experts suggest that children are being exposed to more and more allergens such as dust, air pollution and second-hand smoke. These factors all are triggers of asthma. Others suspect that children are not exposed to enough childhood illnesses to build up their immune system. It appears that a disorder of the immune system where the body fails to make enough protective antibodies may play a role in causing asthma. Others suggest that decreasing rates of breastfeeding have prevented important substances of the immune system from being passed on to babies.
It is important to know that cough may be the only symptom present. Whatever may be the condition, you should take your child to a doctor for consultation if your child has problem in breathing.
Now there are some excellent medications available by which asthma can be well-controlled. But it is strongly recommended that patients should take medicine regularly and modify their life style and avoid allergens. Taking steps to reduce your child's exposure to things that trigger asthma symptoms will help your child stay healthy and lessen the possibility of asthma attacks. Here are some things you can do:
Make your home more asthma friendly: Minimise dust that may aggravate nighttime symptoms by replacing certain items in your bedroom. For example, encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in dust-proof covers. Remove carpeting and install hardwood or linoleum flooring. Use washable curtains and blinds.
Reduce pet dander: If your child is allergic to dander, it is best to avoid pets with fur or feathers. Regular bathing or grooming also may reduce the amount of dander in your surroundings.
Get regular exercise: Asthma symptoms can interfere with active play or sports. But do not let asthma sideline your child. Exercise is proved to reduce asthma symptoms and is a critical part of your child's cardiovascular health. With asthma under control, there usually is no limit to your child's physical activity level.
Avoid triggers: As much as possible, avoid the allergens and irritants that your child's doctor has identified as asthma triggers.
Ban smoking around your child: Exposure to tobacco smoke during infancy is a strong risk factor for childhood asthma, as well as a common trigger of asthma attacks.
Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight can worsen asthma symptoms, and it puts your child at higher risk of other health problems.
Reduce exposure to cold air. If your child's asthma is worsened by cold, dry air, a face mask can help.
One in every 250 deaths worldwide is due to asthma. About 90 percent of these deaths are preventable if the patient is not delayed in seeking help and treatment strategies. The lack of education and awareness can be the cause of deadly attack and even death. Irrespective of being a patient with asthma, we all should know the art of taking control over asthma to save us, to save our children or near and dear one or to save even an unknown human while witnessing a deadly attack in a road.
The writer is Assistant Registrar, Department of Paediatrics, Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). E-mail: [email protected]