A puff is easier to handle for older kids (Photo credit: PTI)
Air pollution is responsible for around 17 per cent of asthma cases in children worldwide
Air pollution is a major problem in India, and its effects on the health of the population are becoming increasingly evident. Children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of air pollution, and one of the most common respiratory conditions that they can develop is asthma.
In this article, we will explore how air pollution in India is triggering asthma symptoms in children and what can be done to protect them.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that affects millions of children around the world. It is a condition that causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed and narrow, making it difficult for children to breathe. Asthma symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. In India, air pollution is a major trigger for asthma symptoms in children.
The air pollution levels in India are among the highest in the world, with cities like Delhi and Mumbai being particularly affected. The primary sources of air pollution in India include industrial emissions, vehicular traffic, and burning of fossil fuels. When these pollutants enter the air, they can irritate the airways of children and trigger asthma symptoms.
Air pollution contributes for 17 per cent of paediatric asthma cases
Studies have shown that exposure to air pollution increases the risk of developing asthma in children. According to a study published in the Lancet, air pollution is responsible for around 17 per cent of asthma cases in children worldwide. In India, where air pollution levels are high, this number is likely to be even higher.
Air pollution can also exacerbate existing asthma symptoms in children. When children with asthma are exposed to air pollution, their airways become more inflamed and narrow, making it even more difficult for them to breathe. This can lead to an increase in asthma attacks, hospitalisations, and even death.
It is important to note that not all children are equally affected by air pollution. Children who are already vulnerable due to underlying health conditions or socio-economic factors are at a higher risk of developing asthma and experiencing more severe symptoms.
For example, children who live in areas with high levels of air pollution, near industrial zones, or near busy roads are more likely to experience asthma symptoms than those who live in cleaner areas.
There are several measures that can be taken to protect children from the harmful effects of air pollution. First and foremost, it is essential to reduce air pollution levels in India by implementing stricter regulations on industrial emissions and vehicular traffic.
Encouraging the use of public transport, promoting cycling and walking, and reducing the use of fossil fuels are some of the measures that can be taken to reduce air pollution levels.
In addition to these measures, it is also important to provide children with asthma with proper medical care and management. This includes regular check-ups with a doctor, taking medication as prescribed, and avoiding triggers such as air pollution.
Parents and caregivers can also take steps to reduce the child’s exposure to air pollution by keeping windows closed during peak traffic hours, using air purifiers, and ensuring that the child wears a mask when outdoors in polluted atmosphere.
In summation, air pollution is a significant problem in India, and its effects on children’s health are particularly concerning. Children with asthma are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of air pollution, and exposure to pollutants can trigger asthma symptoms or exacerbate existing ones.
To protect children from the harmful effects of air pollution, it is essential to reduce pollution levels, provide proper medical care, and take steps to reduce exposure to pollutants. By working together, we can create a cleaner and healthier environment for children to grow
– Healthy food including fruit intake to be encouraged
– All Recommended Vaccinations are to be given on time including Influenza and pneumonia vaccines.
(The author is a Director and Senior Consultant, Paediatrics & Neonatology Paediatric Intensive Care, Paediatric Emergency Services, Paediatric Pulmonology, Aakash Healthcare, New Delhi)