World Asthma Day: Managing and Living With Asthma

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Every year, May 2nd is regarded as the World Asthma Day- a day dedicated to raising awareness about asthma and discuss about its prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Asthma, a chronic disease characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing, is the most common chronic disease among children and a public health problem for both high and lower-middle income countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Asthma affects some 300 million people worldwide. For those with asthma, being aware of their condition and what environmental factors that trigger an asthma attack could be crucial to reducing both occurrence and frequency of asthma attacks. While one’s asthma condition can range from mild to life-threatening, asthma can be effectively treated and most sufferers can achieve good control of their asthma. Here we share some facts on asthma as well as the common triggers of asthma, and how one can reduce these through ensuring that they have a clean environment – and more importantly, clean air within where they live.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a common and potentially serious chronic disease. It causes the narrowing and inflammation of the airways, making it hard for sufferers to breathe.

Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and a cough that can vary over time in occurrence, frequency and intensity. Recurrent asthma symptoms frequently cause sleeplessness, daytime fatigue, reduced activity levels and school and work absenteeism.

What is an asthma attack?

During an asthma attack, the lining of the bronchial tubes swell, causing the airways to narrow and reducing the flow of air into and out of the lungs.

Credit: Wikimedia commons

How many people suffer from it?

  • 20% of the world population suffers from allergic disease such as allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis
  • 300 million patients have asthma, and this is expected to increase to 400 million by 2025
  • In more than 50% of adults and 80% of children, their asthma is allergic
  • Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children
  • Patients with asthma reported 14.2 million visits to a doctor’s office and 1.3 million visits to hospital outpatient departments

What can trigger the symptoms of asthma?

Although the fundamental causes of asthma are not completely understood, there are several, inhaled risk factors that can lead to the development of asthma and may trigger its symptoms.

Credit: Wikimedia commons

These include:

PM 2.5

These are microscopic air pollutants, with size below 2.5 micrometers, and long-term exposure to them can trigger pulmonary oxidative stress and inflammation. This damage is associated with the primary development of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People with heart or lung disease (asthma and COPD) are under increased risk because these particles can aggravate the disease process.

Bacteria and Viruses

Inhalation of viruses or bacteria can cause influenza, common cold, tuberculosis and other infections and increase the risk at asthma or COPD symptoms.

Allergens
  • Mold Spores: these can produce irritants and potentially toxic substances, which when inhaled by sensitive people, may trigger allergic reactions or asthma symptoms
  • Pet dander: contain allergens that can cause allergic reactions or trigger asthmatic attacks
  • Dust mite: the waste they produce is a potent trigger for asthma
Dry Air

Around sixty percent of the human body is water. Indoor, dry air draws water out of skin and hair cells, causing itchy skin, chapped lips, brittle hair and redeye. It can aggravate allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions, and ruin a good night’s sleep.

Failure to recognize and avoid triggers that lead to asthma symptoms may result in an asthma attack, unplanned doctor/hospital visit and even death.

What you can do if you suffer from asthma?

Medication

There are two types of asthma medication:

  • Long-term control medications are preventive, taken daily to achieve and maintain control of asthma symptoms
  • Quick-relief medications are used to treat asthma attacks. They relieve symptoms rapidly and are taken on an as-needed basis
Avoiding asthma triggers

Reducing contact with the triggers of asthma can help to reduce the severity of its symptoms. This can be done by:

  • Keeping a diary of your symptoms. This will help you and your healthcare professional to get a clear idea of what may be triggering your asthma.
  • Using an air purifier to reduce allergens and control their levels.
  • Managing your stress can help keep your asthma under control – find an approach that works for you, such as relaxation, exercise etc.
  • If a beloved pet is part of your family, try to keep them out of your bedroom and off furniture. If possible, pets should be bathed frequently.
  • Keeping the humidity in the air in your home between 30 and 50 percent can help asthma symptoms.
  • If you have any concerns about your asthma or the triggers that may affect it, speak to your healthcare professional.

Source: Phillips Singapore