ASTHMA: An Obstructive Disease of Airways
Asthma is a non-communicable clinical syndrome characterized with airway inflammation, airway obstruction, recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing which may produce extra mucus. It vary in severity and frequency from person to person, making breathing difficult and trigger coughing and wheezing when you breathe out and shortness of breath. The airway inflammation leads to hyperactivity of the pulmonary tract which causes airways to narrow in response to various stimuli.
Asthma is a minor nuisance for some people and a major problem to others with either few episodes of attack or recurrent asthma symptoms. Symptoms may occur daily with many episodes big attack or weekly and become worsen while doing physical activities or at night. Recurrent asthma frequently cause sleeplessness, reduced activity, daytime fatigue and others.
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. Asthma attack may be life threatening at times, however, unlike other chronic diseases, asthma has a relatively low fatality rate.
• It was estimated that more than 339 million people suffer from asthma.1 Asthma is the most common noncommunicable disease among children. Most deaths occur in older adults.
• Asthma is a public health problem not just for high-income countries; it occurs in all countries regardless of the level of development. Most asthma-related deaths occur in low- and lower-middle income countries.
• Asthma is under-diagnosed and under-treated. It creates substantial burden to individuals and families and often restricts individuals’ activities for a lifetime.
• In recent asthma surveys, asthma affect 68 per thousands individuals
• There is up to 500,000 hospitalization
• Over 3,300 Americans die annually from asthma
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. You may have infrequent asthma attacks or recurrent asthma which includes:
• Shortness of breath
• Difficulty in breathing
• Chest tightness or pain
• Wheezing when exhaling, which is a common sign of asthma in children
• Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
• wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu
• Asthma signs and symptoms that are more frequent and bothersome
• Increasing difficulty breathing, as measured with a device used to check how well your lungs are working (peak flow meter)
• The need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often
• Family history of allergic conditions
• Personal history of hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
• Viral respiratory illness, such as (RSV), during childhood
• Exposure to cigarette smoke
• Lower socioeconomic status
• Exposure to air pollution or burning biomass
• Airborne allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander or particles of cockroach waste
• Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
• Physical activity
• Cold air
• Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke
• Certain medications, including beta blockers, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve)
• Strong emotions and stress
• Sulfites and preservatives added to some types of foods and beverages, including shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, beer and wine
• Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which stomach acids back up into your throat.
A number of factors are thought to increase your chances of developing asthma. They include:
• Having a blood relative with asthma, such as a parent or sibling
• Having another allergic condition, such as atopic dermatitis — which causes red, itchy skin — or hay fever — which causes a runny nose, congestion and itchy eyes
• Being overweight
• Being a smoker
• Exposure to secondhand smoke
• Exposure to exhaust fumes or other types of pollution
• Exposure to occupational triggers, such as chemicals used in farming, hairdressing and manufacturing
Asthma complications include:
• Signs and symptoms that interfere with sleep, work and other activities
• Sick days from work or school during asthma flare-ups
• A permanent narrowing of the tubes that carry air to and from your lungs (bronchial tubes), which affects how well you can breathe
• Emergency room visits and hospitalizations for severe asthma attacks
• Side effects from long-term use of some medications used to stabilize severe asthma
Proper treatment makes a big difference in preventing both short-term and long-term complications caused by asthma.
WHO strategy for prevention and control of asthma
WHO recognizes that asthma is of major public health importance. The Organization plays a role in coordinating international efforts against the disease. The aim of its strategy is to support Member States in their efforts to reduce the disability and premature death related to asthma.
WHO’s programme objectives are:
• improving access to cost-effective interventions including medicines, upgrading standards and accessibility of care at different levels of the health care system; and
• surveillance to map the magnitude of asthma, analyze its determinants and monitor trends, with emphasis on poor and disadvantaged populations; primary prevention to reduce the level of exposure to common risk factors, particularly tobacco smoke, frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood, and air pollution (indoor, outdoor, and occupational exposure).
Yes, there are various treatment options in the management of asthmatic patients ranging from bronchodilators medications, nebulizers and many more. However, the best treatment line is to present to your clinic and make your complains. This platform kicks against Drug abuse