Chennai Not Safe for Asthma Patients?
CHENNAI: The urban population is more prone to asthma compared to those in rural areas, thanks to the increasing pollution levels in metros that worsen the condition of those suffering from asthma.
In connection with the World Asthma Day that falls on Wednesday, City Express traced the triggering factors for this condition.
Asthma, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in medical terminology, is the narrowing of airways to the lungs. The condition gets worse as years pass by, but can be controlled by inhalation.
“While 50 per cent of the cause for asthma is related to genetic conditions, the other half is attributed to environmental factors. Air pollutants are one of the major triggering factors for asthma, next to sea food and pollen grains,” said Dr D Ranganathan, director, Institute of Thoracic Medicine, Chetpet.
The condition worsens as the intensity of pollution goes up. Though not completely curable, asthma can be controlled by guarding from the triggering factors. “However, unfortunately, it a tough task in urban areas like Chennai, where indoor and outdoor pollution levels are high,” the doctor added. According to Dr Ranganathan, the Institute of Thoracic Medicine treats about 120 patients with respiratory problems everyday, of whom half are diagnosed with asthma. For these patients, both inert and irritant pollutions were risk factors, he added.
Pulmonologists said that the number of asthma cases was increasing in the paediatric age group. Though not all wheezing cases could be classified as asthma, a long history of bronchitis would lead to asthma, they noted. Meanwhile, though pediatricians and pulmonologists in the city asserted that prevalence of asthma in pediatric population was increasing in the country, State health officials maintained that there was no recent study to substantiate this. According to Dr S Balasubramanian, Head of the Department of Paediatrics, Kanchi Kamakoti Childs Trust Hospital, crowded places and increasing pollution levels in the air leads to the increase in number of asthma cases. This contributed to the increasing number of cases in pediatric population as well.
Lack of data on asthma cases in most of the hospitals in the country is proving tough to provide the exact scenario of this disease. The hospital is treating at least 10 cases of the same per day, added Dr Balasubramanian.
Doctors added that if the patient stayed away from pollution and maintained good food and lifestyle habits, they could come out of the condition through inhalation support. However, as the level of pollution is only going up in urban centres like Chennai, those with asthma have a tough fight in hand.
How pollution can
Air pollution can contribute to bringing on asthmatic attacks and has been suspected to even induce the disease in people, according to a study published by the Centre for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology.