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World COPD Day 11.18.2022

The 16th of November 2022 was World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day and 20th of November World Children’s Day, which was first established in 1954 by the United Nations.

We would like to combine these two topics and speak a specialist in the field of paediatric pneumology, Tereza Doušová, M.D., Ph.D., who currently also works at My Clinic.

What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and can it affect children?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name given to a group of diseases of the lungs and airways that are associated with shortness of breath and difficulty exhaling air from the lungs. It typically comes after the long-term inhalation of cigarette smoke or other pollutants that irritate the airways. The consequence is chronic inflammation with mucus production and swelling of the airway wall or damage to the alveoli. This disease mainly affects middle-aged people, not children.

What pulmonary diseases most often affect paediatric patients in the Czech Republic?

Primarily bronchial asthma (astma bronchiale), the prevalence of which is estimated at 10–12% in children globally. It is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, mainly caused by allergy, the symptoms of which can be very similar to COPD in adult patients. The patient suffers from recurrent shortness of breath (difficulty breathing), which is associated with wheezing of varying intensity and coughing. The cough is most often dry and tickly, occurring at night or in the morning on waking up, after physical exertion or, in young children, after laughing and crying.

Which lung diseases do you find the most notable from a professional perspective?

From a professional viewpoint, rare diseases are of particular interest, such as cystic fibrosis, ciliary dysfunction disorders, congenital defects of the lungs or airways, pulmonary function disorders resulting from other diseases, and sleep-disordered breathing conditions. All these patients require incredibly specialised respiratory care.

What led you to specialise in paediatric pulmonology?

I got into pulmonology more by chance. I had originally planned to work as a paediatric neurologist after I qualified. Gradually, however, I found that paediatrics and acute paediatrics in particular was more enjoyable and fulfilling for me. Pulmonology was a great choice. I deal with diseases in which respiratory functions are acutely compromised, rare, chronic, curable or only partially curable diseases. I also perform endoscopic airway examinations and work with technical respiratory support devices in hospital and home environments. The spectrum is relatively broad.

What paediatric issues can parents come to you about at My Clinic?

Primarily symptoms that may indicate both more or less severe lung and respiratory diseases. This may include excessive shortness of breath (at rest or on exertion), coughing (nighttime, daytime, prolonged, repeated), coughing up mucus, breathing associated with loud noises (whistles, grunts, etc.), repeated respiratory infections (pneumonia, bronchitis), or loud or otherwise abnormal breathing during sleep. Also, parents of children with lung problems as a result of physical immaturity (premature babies) or other diseases such as muscle tension disorders and cerebral palsy.

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