PM2.5 woe for asthma sufferers

PM2.5 woe for asthma sufferers

PM2.5 dust pollution can worsen the severity of symptoms suffered by people with asthma, doctors have warned.

Dr Surachai Chokkhanchidchai, chairman of the health service system development committee, told the general meeting of the Thai Asthma Council and Association on Friday that PM2.5 dust is to blame for the increase in asthma patients.

The Public Health Ministry also stressed the importance of preventive healthcare and self-care in response to the air pollution problem, he said.

Dr Orapan Poachanukoon, president of the Thai Asthma Council and Association, said asthma cases have increased three-fold, especially among children, in the past two decades due to daily exposure to dangerous levels of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns, or PM2.5.

Any increase of the PM2.5 concentration level of 10 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³) raises the odds of an individual suffering from asthma symptoms by a fifth, she said, adding that genetic disorders are no longer the main predeterminate of the disease.

Dr Orapan suggested avoiding or controlling activities that bring PM2.5 dust into the house, such as lighting incense sticks, mosquito repellents and aroma candles and even cooking over a gas stove without a cooker hood.

"Lung damage occurs from pollution and smoke inhalation, both of which increase the odds of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease later in life," she said.

As people tended not to notice until their lung capacity is less than 70%, she called for annual lung checks as part of welfare health checks for those living in the North, and those who smoke.

She said obesity also affects lung function and about 40% of people do not realise they have asthma as it's quite hard to detect the symptoms alone. The association will discuss with the Health Department whether it is feasible to check the lung capacity of children every year, she added.

Dr Thanate Gaensan, a representative from the respiratory disease team, said 7% of Thais have asthma, yet only 30% receive treatment as the condition is often overlooked.

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