Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease where the airways get narrowed, swelled, and produce extra mucus, thus disturbing the breathing cycle. However, during an asthma (or)attack or episode, swelling of the airway’s lining increases, muscles surrounding the airways tighten, and thick mucus clog the tiny airways making it difficult to breathe.
However, according to Indian health statistics 2021, Asthma is one of the major health burdens in the country, at around 93 million people, out of which nearly 37 million are asthmatics. This unfortunate condition, leads India to cause 11.1% of the global asthma burden and 42% of related deaths by becoming the world’s asthma capital.
What are the Symptoms?
For some people, asthma is a minor ailment. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to life-threatening problems. However, not all people with asthma have the same symptoms, but the most common symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
- chest tightness
- Coughing during the night
- Chronic cough
- A cold that lasts for more than 10 days
Why is the Significance of World Asthma Day
Every year, the 5th of May is observed as “World Asthma Day”, declared by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) in the year 1998. It is celebrated to create awareness about this health condition, asthma which has now become a serious global concern.
Common Asthma Triggers
There are several asthma triggers. So, let’s learn about those.
- Allergies– Substances that cause allergies can trigger asthma . If you inhale something you are allergic to, it may lead to asthma symptoms. It is advisable to avoid or limit contact with known allergens to decrease or prevent asthma episodes.
- Exercise– Exercise-induced asthma is asthma that is triggered by vigorous or prolonged exercise or physical exertion. Most people with chronic asthma experience symptoms of asthma during exercise. It is better to contact one of your fitness coaches to help you with the exercises. If you don’t have one, connect with HealthifyMe’s unerring coaches for your better health.
- Smoking– Tobacco smoke is a powerful trigger of asthma symptoms. It irritates the lining of the airways. Second-hand smoke can be even more harmful to a person with asthma.
- Pollution– Pollutants in the air have the same effect on asthma as other triggers. They irritate the airways, making them swell and tighten up, and cause breathing problems.
- Food– Certain foods trigger asthma symptoms in a small group of people with asthma. This is usually because: they’re allergic to certain foods and the allergic reaction sets off their asthma symptoms. So it is always better to pre-plan your diet with the help of a dietician or a nutritionist. Connect with one of HealthifyMe’s leading experts to lead a covalent and efficient journey.
- Weather– Weather conditions can bring on asthma symptoms. Some people’s asthma symptoms get worse at certain times of the year. For others, a severe storm or sudden weather change can trigger a flare-up.
Regularly tracking and assessing the health of the lungs plays a significant role in maintaining good respiratory health. Individuals with asthma should take an active role in managing their asthma treatment and preventing themselves from asthma attacks.
Three basic steps asthmatics should be followed to prevent themselves from long term asthma effects:
1. Track your symptoms
Even though your doctor records your results, it is better to note down your everyday symptoms and the action of your lungs in an asthma diary. This diary can help you identify if you need to make treatment adjustments according to your asthma action plan. Keeping a record of your symptoms is an ideal way to check progress or regress. These are some of the key points that you can mention.
- Chest tightness or pain.
- Disturbed sleep is caused by shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing.
- Whistling sounds when you exhale
- Disruptions to work, school, exercise, or other day-to-day activities
- Changes in the colour of phlegm
- Hay fever symptoms.
2. Use long term and quick-relief medications for the betterment
When your lungs aren’t working as well as they should be, you may need to adjust your prescribed medications accordingly. Your self-written asthma action plan, along with your test results will help you know exactly when and how to make adjustments.
A few long-term medications that will help to achieve and maintain control of persistent asthma are: Singulair, Flovent, Advair, Pulmicort, Symbicort, and QVAR.
A few quick-relief medications that help to control asthma symptoms are- Albuterol (ProAir HFA, Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA), Levalbuterol (Xopenex HFA), Metaproterenol, Terbutaline.
These are prescribed drugs and should be consumed only after a consultation with a medical professional.
3. Avoid triggers to reduce the number of asthma attacks
When you have asthma, your airways react to many different things in the environment called asthma triggers (causes and triggers from the healthify asthma blog). Contact with these triggers causes asthma symptoms to start or worsen and may lead to an asthma attack.
The medical and research community around the world is still searching for new drugs to prevent and relieve asthma symptoms.
In the latest news, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved an injectable drug called Tezspire. This drug must be administered every four weeks by a healthcare professional. Tezspire is unique because it is not limited to a specific type of severe asthma. It primarily targets molecules that play a role in airway inflammation.
Gaps in Asthma care
- People from different socio-economic backgrounds get varying levels of access to diagnosis and treatment.
- There is a gap in providing awareness about asthma and its care.
- Between prescribing inhalers and monitoring adherence and ability to use these devices
- Also, WHO with the help of The Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD) elaborately explains and helps the world to reduce the burden of asthma and it’s related issues. Joins with different alliances with the vision of making the world breathe free.
Asthma and Covid 19
People with asthma are generally at a higher risk of respiratory infections. Upon the onset of COVID-19, it can affect the respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and potentially lead to pneumonia and acute pulmonary disease. As a result, asthmatics need to be extra cautious during these times to prevent themselves from getting sick.
Here are a few Do’s for Asthmatics during covid pandemics:
- Double mask and avoid crowds
- Keep your medications handy
- Consult a doctor as soon as you feel a symptom
- Keep your usual asthma triggers away
- Avoid any mental or physical stress
- Wash your inhalation devices regularly to keep them hygienic and clean.
Here are a few don’ts for Asthmatics during covid pandemics:
- Avoid unnecessary travel
- Stock up on your medications
- Do not share your inhaler with anyone
- Don’t change your asthma treatment plan without consulting your doctor.
Asthma is a non-infectious and most common chronic disease that occurs in people of all ages. Hence, World Asthma Day is annually held to spread awareness among people about early self-diagnosis, and maintaining precautions, and treatments. It is also meant to encourage people to live a normal healthy life.
However, are you or any of your family members suffering from asthma? Do you need expert advice to manage this condition? HealthifyMe works towards your overall wellness, so we advise you to make an appointment with your allergist or pulmonologist today.