by Dr. A JAYACHANDRA |01-05-2018
Asthma is a common, chronic respiratory disease affecting the airways of the lungs. It is a chronic ongoing inflammation of these airways causing them to become narrow or swell up making it difficult to breathe. This inflammation makes the person prone to various symptoms. There are a few risk factors that make a person prone to developing bronchial asthma like Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and other allergies, Eczema (allergy affecting the skin), Genetic predisposition (a parent, sister, brother with asthma).
Asthma is quiet prevalent around the world with about 300 million people suffering from this disease. In India it is estimated to be around 3 – 38% in children and 2-12% among adults, commonest in children. National burden is around 18 million.
Asthma has a pattern of symptoms that are diagnostic of this condition. Asthma presents with symptoms of wheeze (musical hiss), shortness of breath, chest tightness, cough, difficulty in speaking. Symptoms may occur during the day or at night. If they happen at night, they disturb sleep.
Children who often cough during the night and who are unable to sleep should be evaluated for asthma.
Symptoms often interspersed with severe attacks, which require urgent health care and can be potentially fatal.
These variations are often triggered by exercise, allergens or irritant exposure, changes in weather and viral infections.
Urbanization with its high levels of vehicle emissions, industrial pollution, burning of waste in the open is contributing to the increase in incidence and worsening of symptoms of asthma. Studies have shown that breathing in polluted air causes 40 percent of asthmatics to have an acute attack requiring them to visit emergency room. .Indoor air pollution in the form of biomass fuel in rural areas is also contributing to this condition.
Lately pigeons have been identified in causing heterogeneity of diseases like asthma, lung fibrosis, and microbial infections of the lung. Allergic proteins found in the bird droppings and feathers of these birds are prime allergens contributing to the rising lung ailments today. Explosion of pigeon population due to easy availability of food and urbanization, increase in breeders, people feeding them on religious beliefs or humanitarian grounds.
Diagnosis of asthma is generally made by symptoms severity and duration, degree of airway obstruction (Spirometry), the extent to which the attack causes disability.
Asthma is a chronic disease and hence treatment goes on for a long time. Medications are given in the form of relievers and controllers. These are given in the form of inhalers to be taken as directed by physician. Controller medications are for long term control of persistent asthma. Help reduce inflammation in the lungs. Taken on a daily basis regardless of whether symptomatic or not. Reliever medications are for short term control of asthma attacks taken only during symptomatic episodes or during an attack.
It requires coordinated efforts on behalf of the patient as well as the physician to keep this condition at bay.
. Become partner with a health care provider and learn about the condition.
. Become aware of asthma triggers and do what you can to avoid them
. Follow the treatment recommendation of your health care provider. Understand your treatment. Know what each drug does and how it’s used.
. See your doctor as scheduled.
. Report any changes or worsening of symptoms.
. Report any side effects of the medications.
Asthma is a disease that can be quiet bothersome if untreated or undertreated, once adequately treated people can lead a normal life and can control their condition if they work together with a health care provider and follow their treatment regimen carefully.
People who do not seek medical care or follow an appropriate treatment plan are likely to experience worsening of their asthma.
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