Wednesday 22 November 2017

Air pollution leads to asthma attacks

Air pollution has been linked to asthma attacks
Air pollution has been linked to asthma attacks

Doctors have found a strong association between black smoke levels and the numbers of children admitted to hospital with asthma.

The team from University College Hospital in Galway examined the relationship between air pollution and admission rates of children in Galway city over a 21-year-period.

Paediatric asthma admissions were recorded from 1985-2005, and admission rates per thousand calculated for pre-school (1-4 years), school aged (5-14 years) and all children (1-14 years) on a monthly and annual basis.

Annual smoke levels impacted more on admission rates of pre-schoolers than school age children.

The main coal supplier in the area noted a trend to the use of smokeless coal in Galway in the mid 1990s. More stringent emission standards for bituminous coal were implemented in 1995, so coal supplied in Galway after that year had both lower sulphur content and lower smoke emissions. Sale of bituminous coal was banned in 2000.

This was associated with a further small reduction in smoke levels.

While there is no cure for asthma, there are effective treatments that can help control the condition. Treatment is based on two important goals:

• relieving symptoms

• preventing future symptoms and attacks from developing

Treatment involves a combination of medicines, a personal asthma action plan and avoiding potential asthma triggers.

It is important for a child to continue using their prescribed medication, with regular reviews. This will help to keep asthma symptoms under control as your child gets older.

There are also several lifestyle changes that may help a child to manage their asthma. With support from schools, there is no reason why a child with asthma cannot take a full part in exercise.

An asthma attack can happen at any time. However, there are usually warning signs for a couple of days before, such as symptoms getting worse, especially during the night, and an increased need to use the reliever inhaler.

Parents who are smokers are reminded never to light up around their children. Smoking around children will make the severity and frequency of their asthma symptoms worse.

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