Ranchi, May 10: Asthma is a significant health problem in India.
As per “The Global Asthma Report 2018”, among India’s 1.31 billion people, about 6% of children and 2% of adults have asthma.
In these unprecedented times, the burden of lung diseases has increased manifold. As people get hit by the second wave, citizens are also getting hit by a great deal of misinformation around lung health. This is especially true for asthma wherein there are a lot of misconceptions.
In an interview with lagatar24.com, Dr Apoorv Sinha, Pulmonologist at TB & Chest Clinic, Bariatu, shared, “Asthma is a chronic condition that produces recurring episodes of breathing problems that are potentially life-threatening and can occur at any age is not contagious and cannot be cured, but can be controlled. Airways become smaller or narrower, due to underlying inflammation or swelling increased mucus production and contraction of muscles around the airways, or bronchospasm.”
According to Dr Apoorv, asthma can be characterized by:
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the chest
- Coughing & excessive fatigue
Waking at night with any of the above symptoms is a key marker of uncontrolled asthma. Asthma can be triggered by environmental allergens like animal dander from feathered or furry pets, cockroach droppings, dust mites, moulds, pollen, tobacco smoke, secondhand smoke air pollution chemicals, and strong smells.
Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma to reduce and prevent asthma attacks, also called episodes or exacerbations.
Busting the myths about Asthma Dr Apoorv listed a few misconceptions about the disease that people may have in their minds:
- You need to take asthma medication only during an asthma attack
- A child with asthma will outgrow the disease
- Inhalers are addictive or habit-forming
- Inhalers are the last resort for the control of asthma
- Asthma is a contagious disease
- Steroids used in asthma are dangerous drugs
- Asthma is a psychological disease
Dr Apoorv added that there are several gaps in asthma care which require intervention to reduce preventable suffering as well as the costs incurred by treating uncontrolled asthma.
He listed gaps in asthma care which include:
- Access to diagnosis and treatment (medicine).
- Care for different socioeconomic, ethnic and age groups.
- Communication and care across the primary/secondary/tertiary care interface.
- Asthma knowledge and asthma awareness between health care providers.
- Prioritization between asthma and other long term conditions.
- Adhering to inhalers and monitoring adherence and ability to use these devices.
- Awareness and understanding that asthma is a chronic (not acute) disease.
Sharing tips to control the chronic disease, Dr Apoorv said that most people with asthma should be able to live healthy, active lives with minimal symptoms. To control Asthma, follow an individualized, written asthma action plan given by your Doctor. Reduce or eliminate exposure to things that can cause asthma symptoms. Encourage and support the use of medication as prescribed.