Prevalence and pattern of asthma exacerbation in children seen at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu
Background: Acute exacerbation is a major cause of morbidity in asthmatic children. It can occur even in well controlled asthma.
Aim: To determine the prevalence and pattern of acute exacerbation of asthma in children seen at the emergency room of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu.
Materials and methods: This was a descriptive, cross sectional study in which consecutive children with acute exacerbation of asthma presenting to the Children Emergency Room (CHER) of UNTH, Enugu were recruited. Information from the history and examination were documented with a structured questionnaire completed by the attending doctor. Severity of their exacerbation was determined using the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) guidelines. The children were treated using the written management protocol used in CHER, UNTH, Enugu which was adapted from GINA guidelines.
Results: There were a total of 114 presentations (episodes) of acute exacerbation asthma by 104 children within the study period with eight children having multiple episodes. This represented 6.5% of the overall number of emergency cases seen during the period. Nearly an equal number (ratio; 1: 1.04) of males and females were enrolled with the mean age of 7.9 ± 4.7 years. More children with asthma exacerbations were admitted during the rainy season months of May and June, while the dry season months of December and January recorded lower number of episodes. Most (86.0%) cases were mild to moderate exacerbations and 16 (15.3%) were severe. Three of the 22 (13.6%) children on controller medications were among the 16 that had severe exacerbation. No death was recorded during the period.
Conclusion: The prevalence of asthma exacerbation is relatively high in our tropical environment and the pattern is similar to those of the developed countries in terms of age and sex distribution, however, the peak period of presentation differ in our environment.
Keywords: Asthma, exacerbation, children, prevalence, pattern