By – Dr Pallab Chatterjee, Consultant Paediatrics & Neonatology, Manipal Hospitals, Salt Lake Kolkata
On World Asthma Day 2022 , it is our responsibility to clear the myth that children do not suffer from asthma. The theme for this year’s Asthma Day is Uncovering Asthma Misconception. It becomes vital to understand that children are also prone to contract asthma and a watchful eye of the symptoms is very important to change the perception and create awareness. If a child suffers from viral fever accompanied with cough and if cough lasts for more than seven days post recovery from fever, it is a clear sign of viral infection and needs a proper diagnosis. If a child is above the age of five shows the symptoms of recurrent episodes of cough, sleepless nights, snoring, frequent sweating, difficulty in physical activities such playing outdoor games, unwillingness in participating in sports must not be ignored and can be the signs of asthma. Further, if a child undergoes sleepless nights, it is very common that the child will become hyperactive and lose focus and concentration and it needs to be addressed to avoid further complications as it might hamper the childhood in a grave manner.
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis are also commonly missed in children and it must be diagnosed for early treatment. Use of inhalers is recommended at a young age to help the child lead a normal life. Inhalers are absolutely safe and can be used without any side-effects. It becomes vital to break the taboo to control asthma. We cannot avoid genetically transmitted asthma from parents to children but chances of transmission can be reduced by keeping an eye on our day-to-day activity. It is very important to avoid smoking for a pregnant woman, passive smoking should also be avoided. Breastfeeding a child up to the age of five is utmost important to protect the child from viral infections.
Vaccinating the child also safeguards the child from contracting frequent viral fever. We cannot stop children from playing outdoor games as it is vital for their growth but we must ensure cleanliness as much as possible to avoid dust and pollen grains infecting the child. Bathing after outdoor sports, washing hands before consuming food, wearing clean clothes and wearing masks when travelling in crowded places can minimize the chance of asthma to a greater extent.
Genetics and environment play a coupled role among children in contracting asthma. We must create awareness and take steps to vaccinate the child for influenza and other infectious diseases to counter asthma. Wearing masks and staying indoors during the lockdown has shown a positive impact as the number of young patients with asthma has reduced. However, we all must keep a check on indoor pollution and maintain all cleanliness at our homes to protect our children. We must follow the steps of symptom detection, diagnosis and treatment to give a better future to every child. The gap should be bridged and people must be educated to understand the importance of treatment on-time for a healthy life.