Asthma:Location, Location & Location
Asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure are three common diseases which share many similarities. Non is curable. All are controllable. All require the patient to make lifestyle modifications and take medication regularly. There is, however, an interesting difference. Diabetes and blood pressure are not affected by the patient’s place of residence. They will behave or misbehave in the same way whether the patient is in New Delhi, New York or Timbuktu !!
Asthma, on the other hand, is influenced by location. It can become better or worse depending on where the patient is living.
In this regard I get two kinds of questions from patients:
- ” Doc, I am being posted to such and such city/country. Will my asthma become worse there? “
- ” Doc, my son has such bad asthma; will moving to another city help? “
The following need to be kept in mind :
- Asthma and allergy are genetic traits. When you move, you take your allergy and asthma with you.
- There are no clear cut “good” or “bad” cities or countries for asthma.
- Warm and damp places have more of house dust mites and fungal spores, and patients with these sensitizations will have worsening of symptoms in these places.
- Plains with a dry climate have more of certain pollens.
- It is worth while to know your allergens. This is easily done by the Skin Prick Test. Your Allergy Specialist can guide you based on your sensitizations.
- Before making the final or irrevocable decision about moving, it may be a good idea to do some “testing.” Renting an apartment and living in the new city for some time to see how asthma is behaving, is a simple and sensible thing to do.
India is on the move !! People are traveling. Changing cities, or even countries, for professional advancement, is very common. Children will also have to move with their parents. If the child has asthma, this change affects him/ her more profoundly. Besides the change in allergen environment, there are other stresses which come into play. Going to a new school, leaving old friends and trying to make new ones, bullying by school mates are real stressors for kids. And stress does make asthma worse.
Sometimes, moving into a dusty house which has been locked for a long time, can lead to an attack of asthma. Smell of paint or polish, similarly, can prove dangerous for asthmatics. Beware of these triggers.
Before moving to a new place, it would be a good idea to discuss the following with your doctor:
- What are the allergens in the new location and what is the likelihood of asthma becoming worse?
- Who are the good doctors in the new city who could take care of you?
- Does the treatment need any alteration?
- What should the school be informed?
With proper planning on these lines, moving to a new place could become a pleasurable experience without asthma playing spoilsport !!