New Delhi: In view of rising asthma cases in the country, especially in the city, experts Friday called for more awareness and also stressed upon dispelling myths and fears associated with inhalation therapy.

In India, the soaring numbers have reached 15-20 million and the number will continue to grow until adequate emphasis is laid on the importance of identifying the right medication, which can help manage asthma effectively, Dr Anant Mohan, the Head of Department of Pulmonary Medicine at AIIMS, said.

The chronic disease affects a large population worldwide and its number is rising every year. According to the WHO Fact sheet, between 100 and 150 million people around the globe suffer from asthma. The reasons for the increasing prevalence of asthma are multifactorial. They include rising air pollution with increase in air particulate matter, smoking, incorrect treatment in children, and viral infections in early childhood.

Emphasising on right treatment and awareness, Dr Mohan said it is very important to change the perception towards asthma and inhalation therapy.

“While inhalation treatment can play a crucial role in reducing the impact of asthma on people’s lives, adherence is crucial. Inhaled medicines help to deliver the drugs directly to the lungs where they are required, so they work faster, better and with negligible side effects,” Dr Mohan said.

He said the challenge is to convince the patients to accept inhalers and adhere to the treatment prescribed in order to get the full benefit. Inhalation therapy works to control asthma by preventing and relieving symptoms and reducing flare-ups, but they will work if patients work in partnership with their physicians and take them as advised. Another challenge to manage asthma is discontinuation of the medication once the symptoms have subsided. Unfortunately, this may also result in the aggravation of the disease and flare-up of symptoms, leading to worsening of disease. Experts suggested consulting a doctor before taking such steps as asthma usually requires long-term treatment.

Air pollution is becoming an important cause and trigger for asthma in India and it is proven now that inhalation therapy remains the best form of drug delivery in asthma as it delivers drugs directly in the lungs, and the action is quick and lesser dose is required to improve the symptoms. “We need to make people aware about this safe and effective therapy. Inhalers are handy, easy to carry and patient friendly as they are very simple to use,” said Dr Ankit Parakh, senior consultant –Pulmonologist, Centre For Child Health at BLK Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi.

According to a Lancet Report, traffic-related pollution caused asthma among 350,000 children in India in 2015, second only to China. The Lancet study analysed 194 countries and 125 major cities worldwide. Although less than half the size of China’s burden, India had the next largest number of cases (350,000) due to its large population of children. Among cities, Paris ranked 21st (33%), New Yorkv29th (32%), London 35th (29%), and New Delhi 38th (28%).