Friday, January 16, 2015

Achhe Din….Bure Din… the story of Asthma

By Dr Vikram Jaggi, Asthma & Allergy Specialist - posted at Docplexus forum
Life throws up good days and bad days – suddenly & unexpectedly. In the life of an asthmatic too there are good days and there are bad days. The last 30 to 40 days have been bad days ( bure din ) for most asthmatics in north India.
Let us try to understand why this has been so and try to learn some lessons from it.
Change of season, generally speaking, is a bad time for asthmatics. Many types of pollen and some types of fungal spores are more at the time of changing season. Kikkar or babul tree ( Prosopis julifora ) is one such example. More pollen means more asthma symptoms for pollen sensitized patients. Every 4-5 years there is a year when the pollen counts are exceptionally high. This year was one such year. Most patients suffered more this year.
Patients of asthma somehow assume that “coldness “or low temperatures have a bad influence on asthma. This may be true for some asthmatics. Many asthmatics experience some aggravation of asthma on breathing of very cold air, as happens in running in the open on a very cold day. But it is also true that many asthma patients actually improve when visiting very cold countries like Canada or Sweden. So coldness, per se, is not the main culprit.
Fog and Smog. These past few days have been very foggy. Does that aggravate asthma ? Yes it does. What’s the difference between fog and smog? To put things very simply :  fog is a high concentration of water vapor near the ground. Or in other words, Fog is a cloud in contact with the ground. Smog is high concentration of pollution near the ground. Smog can come from man-made sources like traffic and factories. Fog is a function of weather.
Fog is fog; smog is fog + smoke together.
We all have read in the newspapers recently that burning of crops in Punjab and Haryana is contributing to the smog. What is really happening ? Earlier, crops were cut by hand and sickle. This was done very near to the ground and only a very small stalk was left. Now most of the crops are cut by machines which cut at a greater height above the ground and hence a longer stalk is left behind. The farmers later set these on fie before the next crop is sown. The smoke from this activity, which has very high particulate matter content, travels long distances and adversly affects the asthma patients.

So what lessons can we learn from all this ?
1.      Be prepared. This will happen every year at this time.
2.      Be regular with your medication in anticipation. If required step up the dose.
3.      Restrict outdoor activities (morning walk) in these months between 5 to 10 AM.

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