Dubai, UAE: A growing portion of the country’s children are finding it more difficult to breathe, said a top paediatrician at health conference in Dubai.
Seven out of every 10 children may be experiencing some symptoms of asthma, said Dr Fatima Mohammad Al Jasem at the first International Paediatric Pulmonology (IPP) Conference on Thursday in Dubai.
And that number is expected to increase by up to 10 per cent annually, she said.
Dr Fatima, a paediatric pulmonology specialist who serves as President of Emirates Allergy and Respiratory Society, told Gulf News that mild to severe asthma and other lung diseases among infants and children are on the rise in the UAE.
To increase the frequency of diagnos and treatment, Dr Fatima said “the conference has been organised to shed light on the need to conduct more specialised research in this field and encourage more pulmonologists to be paediatric specialists. We need to come up with recommendations and also help doctors who receive such cases to be able to identify the symptoms.”
According to Dr Fatima, there are only three Emirati doctors specialised in paediatric pulmonology in the UAE and only a few certified specialists who can properly diagnose different kinds of asthma and provide the right treatment.
A plethora of asthma types and lung disorders found in children in the country — which can mimic symptoms of other diseases — makes it difficult for general practitioners to diagnose the problem, she said.
“It’s extremely important to diagnose the type of asthma and find the right treatment for it because some treatments don’t work on severe cases,” she said. “Around 30 per cent of infants within this figure suffer from what is called viral induced wheeze, which is an intermittent airway obstruction followed by coughs and wheezes. Five to eight per cent of children have acute asthma and don’t respond to common treatments.”
There is no child that doesn’t display symptoms in the chest or doesn’t cough.
“It is the disease of the age and is on the rise because of many different factors,” she said.
“Weather and environmental changes are seen as the main causes of asthma among children, but it is also a genetic issue inherited from the parents. Research has proven that if any one of the parents has asthma, there is a five to seven per cent risk the child will develop asthma.”
Symptoms of asthma can also be triggered on account of allergens, she said, like the frankincense used in many homes, grass, pollen, and dust. Triggers include being around people who smoke.
Similar to diabetes, asthma can only be treated, not cured, Dr Fatima confirmed.
“Asthma is treated by asthma medications and sprays, but there are also new treatments coming up for severe cases. An internal treatment to expand airways in lungs is used on adults, but will soon be used on children. Other asthma cases related to the immune system are also treated differently.”
As for diagnosing severe asthma diseases, flexible bronchoscopy is being used in Dubai hospitals to diagnose types of acute asthmas, she said.
The latest developments and treatments in this field will also be discussed in seven scientific sessions and four workshops.
© Gulf NewsSep 2015