Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood and a major health problem not only in India but globally. A multifold increase in the incidence of bronchial asthma has been reported in the past decade. This increase is attributed mainly to increasing environmental smoke and air pollution due to the rapid industrialization of cities. Most children develop asthma at an early age. Many previous studies on asthma in India reported an estimated prevalence rate of 2% up to as high as 23%.
According to a study, the prevalence of bronchial asthma among 11- to 16-year urban school-going children is higher. The study found out that the incidence of bronchial asthma is significantly associated with risk factors such as gender (males at higher risk than females), type of fuel used at home for cooking and water heating, presence of pet (cat/dog) in the home, history of smoking among family members, and socioeconomic status (more in upper socioeconomic status). Bronchial asthma in this age group is largely underdiagnosed, only 23% were reported and diagnosed by physicians.
Symptoms of asthma in children
- Shortness of breath
- Chest congestion or tightness
- Frequent coughing that worsens when your child has a viral infection, occurs while your child is asleep or is triggered by exercise or cold air
- A whistling or wheezing sound while breathing out
Additional symptoms include
- Delayed recovery or bronchitis after a respiratory infection
- Trouble breathing that hampers play or exercise
- Fatigue, which can be due to poor sleep
- Trouble sleeping due to shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
- Bouts of coughing or wheezing that get worse with a cold or the flu
Tips for prevention
- Avoid exposure to asthma triggers
- Don’t allow smoking around your child
- Encourage your child to be physically active
- Help your child maintain a healthy weight
- Consult the doctors for a routine checkup of your child, never miss it
- Protect against GERD-related diseases
Conclusion - Preventive interventions need to be taken to reduce the disease burden at the community level. Public awareness about asthma needs to be done so that the disease may be diagnosed earlier and some timely preventable measures may be taken.