LAHORE: Medical experts and senior doctors have warned of the tendency of the cold winds to aggravate asthma, suggesting to the patients to avoid travel on the highways in the thick smog and fog as a severe asthma attack during travel can be fatal for them.

Addressing a workshop at a private hospital in the wake of the rising number of patients with the history of ‘asthma attacks’ at the peak of the winter, they said the patients should consult their physicians to ensure asthma control before making long journeys.

Organised by the General Cadre Doctors Association (GCDA) Punjab and Public Health Consultant, the event was also attended by the association’s president Dr Masood Shaikh and other physicians of public and private hospitals of the city.

Dr Shaikh suggested to the asthma patients to take special care during the severe cold weather.

“People who have had a severe asthma attack should travel only when the sun is out and the weather is clear. They should keep the car heater on while traveling and take the inhaler with them.”

Medical experts issue list of precautions before embarking on journey

He advised the patients to keep the windows of the vehicles shut during the journey and clean the inside of the vehicle thoroughly, removing dust with a vacuum cleaner before embarking on the journey.

The GCDA president said the asthma patients should use medicines timely in the cold season.

“If patients have no obstruction in breathing, no cough or wheezing, and no difficulty in breathing even during exercise, it means that asthma is under adequate control.”

Dr Shaikh said the patients should take steam of plain water before starting the journey and the water should be boiled in a pot and steamed with mustard oil three to four times.

“By doing this, the thick mucus stuck in the respiratory tract would be softened and breathing problems would be reduced. Before starting your journey, take a warm shower so that the steam clears the respiratory tract from the inside and relieves the problem,” he advised the asthma patients.

Dr Asad Abbas Shah said not taking the right medicine or right medicine on time and in the right quantity and skipping medicine without consulting the doctor could be dangerous.

He said according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), currently around 300m people worldwide were suffering from asthma.

“Asthma has become a major public health problem in Pakistan and a major burden on our healthcare system. Over 5pc of our population suffers from it.”

He pointed out that increasing air pollution, haphazard urban population growth and reduced muscular activities were not only increasing the rate of asthma but also increasing its severity.

Dr Shehbaz said asthma could occur at any age but its severe attack was more common in children of five to 10 years of age. He highlighted cold wind, air pollution, increase in urban population, obesity, lack of movement as some of the reasons for increasing asthma attacks.

Dr Munir Ghouri said typical symptoms of asthma included dry cough, wheezing or chest tightness.

“Asthma patients should stay away from dust, animal and bird feathers, various chemical compounds, smoke and perfumes that cause allergies; otherwise, they may have repeated asthma attacks,” he added.

Dr Rana Rafique said asthma could be controlled and patients could lead a normal life by making positive lifestyle changes, taking proper precautions and having timely treatment.

Published in Dawn, january 7th, 2023

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