Asthma: Dealing with the Disease effectively
Yet another attack, Keshav felt, the tightness in his chest has pulled him down to the chair. It is 7.45 in the morning and by this time he should have been in the metro station to reach office by 9.30 am. A meeting is scheduled for 10:45 am. The intensity of the attacks are increasing these days, he murmured.
Keshav has missed taking his inhalation as the drug that he uses to control the attack is not easily available. His doctor had decided to change his medication recently as the one that he has been using for the past few years does not give him the much needed relief that it used to at one point of time.
The 35 year old and a father of two toddlers, he has been suffering from Asthmatic attack ever since he was 12 years old. Initially his parents thought that the rising pollution was the reason, being born and brought up in the arid areas of Rajasthan and in a place where dust particles are adding to the air everyday as a marble crushing factory has been set up nearby.
But with time, any change in weather, food, pollution etc triggers the much dreaded attack.
Asthma is one of the commonest non-communicable diseases and the commonest non-communicable respiratory disease
The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) defines the disease as a “heterogeneous one, usually characterized by chronic airway inflammation. It is defined by the history of respiratory symptoms such as wheeze, shortness of breath, chest tightness and cough that vary over time and in intensity, together with variable expiratory airflow limitation”
According to WHO, Asthma affects over 300 million people approximately 250,000 people die from asthma every year and nearly 5% of asthmatics live in India. According to WHO statistics, India has about 15 to 20 million asthmatics.
The main sources of India’s air pollution are indoor cook stoves, road traffic, and industrial plants that burn fossil fuels and burning of waste material in the open. The report also indicates that other factors like exposure to tobacco smoke and exposure to chemical irritants can cause additional risk.
With effective treatment most people can lead normal lives but some people have asthma that cannot be controlled despite access to all treatments money can buy whilst many people around the world lack access basic effective treatment.
The basic treatment includes reliever treatments, Regular preventive treatments and inhaled steroids which are the most important asthma drugs. Inhaled steroids are on the WHO essential medicines list, but still inhaled steroids remain out of reach for many of the world’s poor who have asthma.
According to WHO, although asthma cannot be cured, appropriate management can control the disease and enable people to enjoy a good quality of life. Short-term medications are used to relieve symptoms. Medications such as inhaled corticosteroids are needed to control the progression of severe asthma and reduce asthma exacerbation and deaths.
Medication is not the only way to control asthma. It is also important to avoid asthma triggers - stimuli that irritate and inflame the airways. With medical support, each asthma patient must learn what triggers he or she should avoid.
It has been seen that children are more susceptible to asthma attack.
Although asthma does not kill on the scale of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other chronic diseases, failure to use appropriate medications or to adhere to treatment can lead to death.
It may be mentioned that basic effective treatments prevents asthma deaths.