August 7, 2009

Haze - related illnesses soar among children

By Annie Freeda Cruez

KUALA LUMPUR: The haze has brought about an increase in the number of children seeking treatment for respiratory problems and chest infections especially in the Klang Valley.

According to Kuala Lumpur Hospital consultant pulmonary and critical care physician Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai, the situation was still manageable but could worsen if the haze worsened.

He said those with underlying respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis should not forget their medication.

He added that if the illness worsened, they should seek immediate medical attention.

"The haze can cause upper and lower respiratory tract infections, conjunctivitis or 'red eye' and sore throat. This is due to dust particles and the presence of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide."

He said both coarse and fine particles could irritate the eyes and respiratory tract, causing runny nose, phlegm, coughing and wheezing.

"Air pollution can lead to a runny nose. Throats get dry and itchy and mucus develops. It could end up clogging the respiratory tract, leading to infection."

Serdang Hospital head of paediatric department Dr Norrashidah Abd Wahab said the hospital had seen an increase in the number of children aged 5 and below coming in with upper and lower respiratory tract infection since early this month.

She said their two paediatric wards, each with 28 beds, were now fully occupied, with 80 to 90 per cent of admissions due to haze- related problems.

"We are seeing a 20 to 30 per cent increase in admissions since the second week of the month."

Paediatric neurologist Dr Malinee A.Thambyayah of Pantai Hospital said she had handled children coming in with complaints of allergic rhinitis, tightness in the chest, clogged noses and dust allergy.

"My own daughter is suffering from throat irritation," she added.

The doctors advised Malaysians not to stay outdoors for long periods and to wash their hands and face as soon as they came indoors.

The public should also:

- bathe regularly to get the dust out of the face and body;

- reduce outdoor activities, including physical exercise; and,

- drink plenty of fluids.

Source :
Photo by rb