Peking Opera teenager: Overcoming asthma & carrying on a quintessential Chinese lineage

As one of China’s cultural gems, the lifeblood of traditional Chinese culture runs through Peking Opera’s veins, and it is something that should be promoted in modern society. However, the rigorous requirements of Peking Opera in terms of vocal music and singing skills, as well as its lessening relevance to modern society has led to those studying Peking Opera becoming fewer and fewer.

Here we want to introduce a young Peking Opera performer, who with the support of his family and own individual resolution, not only overcame bronchial asthma, but also persisted in undertaking vocational Peking Opera training, carrying on this lineage of traditional Chinese culture.

On the 30th of August in 2020, on the evening before the Ninth Asthmatic Children’s Online Games organised by the Capital Institute of Pediatrics in conjunction with the Allergy and Asthma Patient Platform, we were fortunate to be able to interview the mother of young Peking Opera performer Ding Hu, giving us an opportunity to hear about Ding Hu’s story and experiences.

A childhood with asthma and the dream of Peking Opera

Ding Hu is from Beijing, the capital of China, his interest in Peking Opera started at a very young age due to his grandfather’s influence. Even at such a young age he already cut a dashing figure in various Peking Opera roles, and he decided he wanted to become a famous Peking Opera performer at an early stage.

However, Ding Hu’s health wasn’t that good, and he often suffered from asthma, and the search for treatment and medication led him to a number of hospitals. When Ding Hu was around five years old, he had recurrent asthma which was often accompanied by panting and shortness of breath, and sometimes he would become out of breath just from talking, accompanied by a runny, itchy nose and sneezing. This was a source of great distress for both him and his family.

Just by chance, Ding Hu’s parents came across Professor Chen Yuzhi, a famous specialist at the pediatric asthma clinic (now the allergic reaction department) of the Capital Institute of Pediatrics. After careful questioning about the history of his condition and a thorough examination, Professor Chen’s team reached a diagnosis of allergic asthma, with allergic rhinitis. Ding Hu’s parents’ anxiety was alleviated, and they wholeheartedly and actively supported Professor Chen’s treatments. Part of that necessitated the use of a PARI nebulizer in conjunction with an MDI spacer to administer glucocorticoid treatment, after which he was required to rinse his mouth and wash his face, using saline to rinse his nasal cavity in the morning and evening.

His peak flow rate was monitored each day, with regular pulmonary function checkups. Dosage was gradually reduced according to the state of his condition, and he was required to avoid allergens, and gradually increase outdoor activities as appropriate. The frequency of attacks gradually reduced, and the dosage he required gradually became less and less. On the basis of Ding Hu’s parents’ strict adherence to the medical advice they received, and their determination to persist with long-term standardised treatment, and the adoption of a combined medical and exercise regimen, his condition was successfully brought under control. He no longer suffered from panting, and his rhinitis had also been brought under control, with his pulmonary function gradually returning to normal.

By the time Ding Hu was 10, he had virtually stopped using medication. Over the years, while undergoing treatment, Ding Hu has taken an active part in the Asthmatic Children’s Online Games organised by the Capital Institute of Pediatrics in conjunction with the Allergy and Asthma Patient Platform. The competition space of the games has allowed him to enjoy sports fully.

Never gave up on his dream of Peking Opera

These days, Ding Hu, who is now a teenager, has advanced from being one of the little athletes to being a volunteer at the Children’s Games. He is responsible for cheerleading, encouraging the confidence of the girls and boys with asthma and their families, and making a contribution in his own way for children with asthma. Apart from that, Ding Hu never gave up his dream, and persisted in his vocational training in Peking Opera, his biggest interest.

Even back in 2020 when quarantining at home, Ding Hu was able to persist with his training to develop his voice, and to practice his steps and basic martial arts skills. Success comes to those who wait! Ding Hu is now a pupil at The National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts Affiliated Secondary School, and he is a key part of the performing troupe. He has given dazzling performances at the National Centre for the Performing Arts and the Chang’an Grand Theatre on numerous occasions. He has already earned a name for himself in Peking Opera circles, as well as continuing the lineage of the international Chinese cultural heritage that is Peking Opera.

Ding Hu and his mother are extremely grateful to Professor Chen’s team at the Capital Institute of Pediatrics for providing standardised and effective treatment, they can also offer some sincere advice – don’t worry any more, if you follow the specialist’s advice and persist with long-term standardised treatment, and go to regular follow-ups, your confidence will grow and your asthma will be brought under control.

Sport is an important part of the treatment of asthma

Bronchial asthma is due to chronic inflammation of the airways. It is characterised by recurrent attacks, and if not effectively controlled it can have a serious effect on a child’s growth, development and quality of life. Inhaling small quantities of glucocorticoids is currently an important measure in the treatment of asthma.

Many sufferers and their families mistakenly believe that sport is not possible with asthma. At the 2014 Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) conference, non-drug based measures were officially listed as being important for prevention of asthma. It was stated that a self-administered plan relying solely on drug treatment was no longer sufficient. Adopting a combination of medical treatment and sport based on effective control over the condition being achieved with steroid inhalation therapy, it is possible to encourage recovery both medically and in an enjoyable manner, with scientific checkups and appropriate sport both playing an active and supplementary role in treatment to control asthma.

This form of recuperative management of asthma through sport encourages children’s growth and development, improving children’s constitutions, while eliminating parental anxiety and improving compliance, ensuring that asthmatic children receive standardised treatment and relief, and learn how to manage their conditions themselves. The hope is that by persisting with long-term standardised treatment, combined with appropriate sport, the confidence of children with asthma can be improved. At the same time as asthma is brought under control, this would allow them to gain pleasure from the enjoyment of sport, and allow them to strive after the profession they desire and pursue their own dreams!

You may also be interested in these topics:

Note: The information in this blog post is not a treatment recommendation. The needs of patients vary greatly from person to person. The treatment approaches presented should be viewed only as examples. PARI recommends that patients always consult with their physician or physiotherapist first.

An article written by the PARI BLOG editorial team.

Back to overview