Unhealthy Lifestyles Blamed for Increase in Childhood Asthma

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A senior pediatrician at Mulago Hospital says pollution and unhealthy lifestyles are leading to the increasing incidence of asthma and eczema among children in Uganda. Dr. Sabrina Bakeera-Kitaka says the children's ward in Mulago is receiving a higher number of patients suffering from asthma and eczema than ever before. She says pollution of the environment, overcrowded households and poor diets are the main causes of increased incidence of the two diseases. According to the World Health Organization asthma is the most common disease of childhood, affecting one in seven children. In the developed world, the asthma prevalence is much higher, affecting one in four urban children. Asthma is a disease of the respiratory system in which the airways constrict, become inflamed and are lined with excessive amounts of mucus. The airway narrowing causes symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing. Infantile eczema affects similar numbers of children and the World Health Organization says 60 percent of children with severe eczema will have related asthma. Eczema is an inflammation of the skin which may cause dryness, flakiness, heat and itching. Dr. Bakeera says that the increased information about the two diseases may be contributing to the high number of cases reported to Mulago Hospital. She however says that many people are ignorant of what triggers the diseases and are therefore unable to prevent asthma or eczema attacks. //Cue in: iIncreased awareness is #i Cue out: i# release small hairs.i// Dr. Bakeera lists other common asthma triggers as dust, cigarette smoke, chemicals, allergies to pollen, medicines and stress.