PIMS receives 300 allergy asthma patients in three weeks

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Islamabad : Well over 300 patients with allergy asthma have been treated at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in last three weeks and the number of patients with allergy-induced asthma is continuously on the rise.

Of the total patients so far reported at PIMS with asthma problems, as many as 34 patients were managed at intensive care unit of the hospital while three patients were put on ventilator however all of the patients recovered well, said Consultant Intensive Care Medicine at Department of Critical Care at PIMS Dr. Muhammad Haroon while talking to ‘The News’ on Wednesday.

He added that record of the hospital shows that 75 per cent of the patients who reached PIMS with allergy-induced asthma were females. Like every year, the onset of spring affects a large number of patients with allergy or atopic asthma, a disease of hypersensitivity of upper airways and lungs, he said.

He added that apart from patients of allergy rhinitis, also known as hay fever, the hospitals are receiving significant number of patients with allergy asthma. In cases of allergy asthma, a number of allergens trigger acute attack and by avoiding these allergens, allergy asthma may be cured completely, he said.

To a query, Dr. Haroon said allergy rhinitis or hay fever commonly known as pollen allergy is different from allergy asthma as it affects the upper and lower respiratory airways while allergy-induced asthma is a disease that involves lungs.

Talking of factors that trigger allergy asthma attacks, he said the house dust mite present in almost all kinds of soft fabrics, curtains, sofa, bed sheets, carpets and clothes may cause acute attack while cockroach allergy is another common trigger.

He added that pollens usually cause frequent allergy rhinitis and asthma is rarely caused by pollens. Fungal spores in walls of houses that are wet or humid provide a medium for nourishment of fungus that is also a common cause of allergy asthma.

Furred animals especially cats are implicated in triggering allergy asthma attacks while droppings of birds are another trigger that not only cause asthma but also pneumonias that can be life threatening, said Dr. Haroon.

He added that smoke of all kinds from tobacco to gasoline can trigger asthma attack. Cold air and air having dust and chemical allergens can also trigger asthma attack, he said.

Talking of first aid treatment of asthma attack, he said the best thing is to keep a nebulizer at home and a revolizer, metered dose inhaler in your pocket. All asthmatics should take flu and pneumonia vaccines to avoid exacerbation or attacks due to infections, said Dr. Haroon.

To a query, he said the asthma attack sometimes rapidly deteriorates the respiratory function due to severe spasm or exhaustion. Patient has diffused wheezing all over chest and develops bluish discoloration of hands, feet, oral cavity and lips. Patient may not speak complete sentences and feels agitation, restlessness and a feeling of impending doom, he explained.

He added although majority of patients with severe asthma attack formerly known as status asthmatics respond well to emergency treatment, however, about eight per cent of patients with acute severe asthma can face life-threatening asthma attack and need ventilator support in intensive care unit.

He said to avoid asthma attacks; one should drink extra fluids and get flu vaccine early in the spring if one has not taken in winter. Vacuum and dust your home often to remove indoor allergens band wash your sheets and blankets every week in hot water to get rid of dust mites, he said.

Dr. Haroon said one should keep in mind that allergy is just one of many asthma triggers. Other things that can set off asthma symptoms include tobacco smoke, strong scents, allergens such as pollen, mold, dust mites, and animal dander, exercise, stress, infections with viruses or bacteria, he said.

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