(MENAFN - Arab News) Due to the changing weather conditions, parents should take extra in protecting their children from allergy diseases such as bronchial asthma, according to physicians, who have been getting more cases of the disease during the recent days.
"The main point to remember is that even when symptoms are mild, asthma should not be ignored," said Dr. Bakry Mackeen, who works at Sun Polyclinic in Batha.
Symptoms may include sneezing, runny noses, watery eyes, inability to eat, audible wheezing, pale or bluish looking skin and broncho-constriction He pointed out that cold is the most common cause of asthma in children.
He said asthma has a significant effect on patients and their families.
Children miss school and adults are absent from work. If monitored and addressed correctly, the effect of asthma has on daily life can be dramatically reduced.
"It is advisable for parents to take their children out for leisure to indoor entertainment,where they will not be exposed to allergens, Mackeen said, advising people not to take to open areas and make the children vulnerable to such diseases.
Bronchial asthma has emerged as one of the prevalent diseases in the Kingdom and had shown regional diversity, according to a recent study conducted in Saudi Arabia.
The socio-economic differences between asthmatic and non-asthmatic children were striking. Environmental and geographical influences were considered to be the reasons of the variations in the rate of prevalence.
Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways and it is the most common chronic disease of childhood affecting approximately 235 million people worldwide. Symptoms of asthma vary from mild to severe and intermittent to chronic symptoms.
There are two factors that trigger asthma attacks: allergic and non-allergic factors. The factors cause the inflammation, which is then followed by tightening of the airway muscles. Examples of these factors are dust mites.
There is evidence that early exposure to large amounts of house dust and dust mites increase the risk for asthma.
Examples of non-allergic factors are viral infections such as the common cold, which triggers 90 percent of asthma attacks in children compared to 40 percent in adults. Another non allergic factor is smoke. Second hand smoke can cause serious harm to children.
An estimated 400,000 to one million asthmatic children have their condition worsened by exposure to secondhand smoke.
The overall prevalence of asthma in Saudi children has been reported to range from 8 percent to 25 percent based on studies conducted over the past three decades. Some children who exercise experience exercise induced asthma (EIA) and develop asthma symptoms after activity such as running, swimming, or biking.
In a recent study, which compared results of previous studies conducted in 1985-1986, combined data revealed varying prevalence of asthma with highest 24 percent being in the coastal city of Jazan, followed by Taif, 23 percent and Hail, 22 percent, an agricultural city. The prevalence rate of asthma in other places included Al-Qassim 16 percent, Abha at 13 percent, Dammam at 12 percent, Hofuf at 14 percent, Jeddah at 12percent and Riyadh at 10 percent.
According to a study conducted by an asthma group, 53 percent of children in the GCC were absent from school for at least one day because of asthma. Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism. For example, in the United States in 2008, asthma accounted for an estimated 14.4 million lost school days in children.
The prevalence of asthma has been increasing globally due to a number of factors. In addition, the disease represents a significant burden, not only in terms of morbidity and reduced quality of life of patients, but also in terms of health care cost.
In the Kingdom, a new line of asthma control drugs known as montelukast sodium is used to prevent asthma attacks in adults and children as young as 12 months old. Montelukast sodium is also used to prevent exercise-induced broncho-spasm in adults and children who are at least 6 years old.