BENGALURU: In a study conducted by paediatric pulmonologist Dr H Paramesh, it has been revealed that cases of children below 18 years suffering chronic cough cases has risen to 21 per cent in 2017, from 8 per cent in 1999. This study was revealed by the doctor in C-40 City Air Quality Network, a global effort to tackle air pollution. The study further states that the rising levels of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) in the air is the reason behind chronic cough.
Cough that persists for a period of eight months or longer is usually defined as chronic cough. Paediatrician, Ashok MV, who has dealt with several respiratory ailments in children says that chronic conditions start with “Mild conditions like allergy, common cold, pneumonia, and wheezing. Other than lung conditions, there is also an increase in the number of skin allergy cases and blood-related issues also.”
Blaming the rising number of cases of allergy in children on the pollution, he says, “There is an increase in such cases because of the vehicles on the road, dust from construction work, pollution. A sudden change in the weather also causes allergic conditions to increase.”
What is alarming is the fact that these cases are even diagnosed in children as young as six-months-old.
“Wheezing, allergic conditions, bronchitis and respiratory infections are seen in them. With rising pollution, there’s an increase in dust even inside the house. Earlier such conditions were seen mainly because of food,” adds Dr Ashok.
Pulmonologist, Sudarshan Reddy, who sees at least two to three children on a daily basis who suffer from chronic cough. He says that the rising pollution adds irritants in the air like sulphate and carbon monoxide. “They not only cause asthma but also cause COBD in non-smokers. They damage the lungs and the symptoms are similar to asthma, just that it is more severe. It is not treatable in the long-term.
Dr Vivek Anand who has been a practising pulmonologist for the last 25 years says he does not buy the dramatic rise that has been reported in the study.
He claims such cases have probably been reported because of more awareness. He further goes on to say, “The pollution will not cause the allergic conditions per say, but it will make allergies worse. It can cause irritation of the mucus membrane like eyes and nose. But it will not cause allergic conditions.”
However, he does agree that exposure to pollution does give way to heart diseases, increases blood pressure and other diseases. “Where you have a high density of pollution, health risks are more. So if you live around Silkboard, you have a greater chance of developing that disease as opposed to someone who is not living in that area,” the doctor adds.