| India could be world asthma capital by
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Mumbai: Check any dustball rolling out of a highrise apartment in
Mumbai and it’s clear why the incidence of allergies and asthma is
spiralling. The rarest of mites—be they blomia tropicalis (storage
grain mites supposed to be found only in granaries) or psocoptera
(found mainly in old books)—festering in the wall-to-wall carpets
and heavy drapes in city apartments are turning them into allergy-
or asthmaprone zones.
Outdoors is worse—more cars means more combustion and more microscopic
particulate matter suspended in the air. “This worsens asthmatic attacks,’’
notes Dr Sanjeev Mehta, who runs a support group for asthmatics in
Bandra. “Exhaust fumes and suspended particulate matter create a predisposition
towards inflammation of the lungs,’’ he adds.
WORLD ASTHMA DAY
Every fifth Mumbaikar risks developing the disease
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Mumbai: On the occasion of World Asthma Day today, doctors point out
that even as asthma is becoming a controllable condition, more and
more people seem to be succumbing to it, a fact corroborated by the
World Health Organisation. They add that Mumbai’s onemillion tribe
of asthamatics will multiply, given the mega-city’s potent mix of
rampant environmental pollution and rapid urbanisation. Combine exhaust
fumes and suspended particulate matter with carbon dioxide, sulphur
dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and fine dust released into the atmosphere
during the unfettered construction work in the city, and you have
a deadly cocktail brewing.
Already, every fifth Mumbaikar suffers from allergic rhinitis (hay
fever) and runs the risk of developing asthma at a later date, according
to a study presented at a recent allergy congress in the city.
“Asthma is a case of having sensitive airways,’’ says a doctor working
with a civic hospital. “Certain people have a genetic predisposition
to asthma as irritants can easily inflame their airways, narrowing
the network of nasal and bronchial passages,’’ adds the doctor. Environmental
and lifestyle triggers can bring this predisposition to the fore,
leading to asthma.
Living in Mumbai makes it worse, say doctors. “Across the world, the
prevalence of asthma is directly proportional to development and GDP.
As India is poised for fast growth and development, it is predicted
that in 2020 India will indeed be the world capital of asthma,’’ says
allergy expert Dr Pramod Niphadkar of St George’s Hospital.
Today, 300 asthmatics will talk about living in polluted Mumbai. At
an open forum organised by the Asthma and Bronchitis Association of
India, they will air their grievances and declare their ‘Bill of Rights’.
Many asthamatics believe they have become easy targets for discrimination.
“For instance, children with asthma are not allowed to participate
in physical training and sports in school. Parents of asthamatic girls
say their daughters’ prospects of marriage are likely to diminish,
and job applicants say an asthmatic condition erodes their chances
of landing employment,’’ says Niphadkar, who runs the Asthma and Bronchitis
Association of India.
The point, however, is that asthma is controllable, he adds, citing
examples of pace bowler Ian Botham and superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
“It is important to take timely medication and follow a healthy regimen,
including a pursuit like yoga,’’ adds another city doctor. After all,
70% of asthamatics who do so tend to outgrow their chronic condition.