Monday, March 08, 2010


Students of schools in busy areas such as Residency Road, Palace Road and Koramangala are prone to asthma attacks

Children studying in schools near busy traffic junctions of Bangalore are more likely to suffer from asthma than those studying in less busy neighbourhoods. A study confirms your worst fears... that dense traffic leaves children coughing, sniffing, and wheezing.
Dr H Paramesh, director of Lakeside Medical Centre and Hospital, said, “Those studying in schools near main roads or junctions are more vulnerable to asthma than their counterparts in less polluted areas.”
In a paper he presented at an international conference on children's health and environment in Bangalore in February 2010, he said, “Traffic slows down at junctions and exhaust gases from vehicles remain in the air for a long time. If schools are located near such places, children are forced to inhale the gases, which leads to respiratory allergy and, if not treated in the initial stage, to asthma.” INITIAL SYMPTOMS
The first four-year study was published in 2002 among students in the 5-16 age group from eight schools. But now the situation has worsened with children being brought to hospitals to treat the symptoms.
It revealed that while the incidence of asthma was 11 per cent among students of schools located in residential areas, the figure went up to 19 per cent for those near traffic junctions or main roads.
According to Dr Paramesh, 90 per cent of the children studied showed the initial symptoms, which include cough persisting for over two weeks.
“If your child coughs while laughing, crying, shouting or even if you pat on his back, take him to a doctor as he may be suffering from inflammation of the respiratory tract,” he says. If these symptoms are not given much importance, some children may start wheezing. In five per cent of all cases, children cough and then vomit. In later stages, they complain of chest pain.
Children are vulnerable to various other respiratory problems such as allergic rhinitis, blocked nose, middle ear infection and sinusitis. Dr Nagabhushana, pediatric pulmonologist and visiting consultant at Columbia Asia Hospital, said, "Such cases are increasing.”
A family history of asthma can make things worse. Dr Ravi Mehta, consultant chest physician, Wockhardt Fortis Hospital, said, "If a child's family has a history of asthma or such other problems, he or she is more vulnerable."
Dr Nagabhushana, pediatric pulmonologist and visiting consultant at Columbia Asia Hospital, has some suggestions to deal with the problem.
Since it is not feasible to change the location of schools, it would be better if parents use mass transport and reduce pollution. Teachers should be trained to recognise the symptoms. It helps if doctors can treat the problem early.
Many prefer to send their children in air-conditioned vehicles. Is that safe?
Dr Salim A Khatib, Consultant Pediatrician, Lakeside Medical Centre and Columbia Asia Hospital said, "There are two problems with using AC cars. For children, the preferred temperature is 25 degrees, but in most cars you can only set the AC to warm or cold. So if the child is exposed to cold, it may suffer from irritation and narrowing of the windpipe. The other problem is that if the AC vents are not cleaned regularly dust particles accumulate.This triggers respiratory allergies. The vents should be cleared at least once every year."
Some traffic-dense junctions where schools are located: Residency Road, St Mark’s Road, Palace Road, Vittal Mallya Road, Brigade Road, Koramangala.


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