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   Home >> Library index >> Medical >> India could be world asthma capital by 2020 
India could be world asthma capital by 2020 


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. 


Every fifth Mumbaikar risks developing the disease 

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.