Bronchial Asthma, under-diagnosed and under-treated
There has been a sharp increase in the global prevalence, morbidity, mortality, and economic burden of Asthma over the last 40 years, particularly in children. Approximately 300 million people worldwide currently have asthma, and its prevalence increases by 50 per cent every decade.
In Pakistan, 10 per cent of children and 5 per cent of the adult population suffer from asthma. Asthma is under-diagnosed and under-treated in our country. Most asthma deaths are preventable. Asthma deaths are mostly caused by inadequate long-term medical care or delays in receiving medical help during an acute attack.
People with asthma can live a normal life provided they receive appropriate long term treatment. Asthma patients have sensitive airways and when exposed to a variety of allergens like pollen or irritants like tobacco smoke, they suddenly start coughing and have difficulty in breathing. A typical asthma attack last for a few minutes but it may be prolonged to several hours. If a severe attack is not treated promptly it may even cause the patient's death.
Following are some tips for asthma patients in order to keep this illness under control. With appropriate management patients with this condition can live normal lives.
- If you or your child suffers from episodic cough, wheezing, tightness of chest or difficulty in breathing, go to an expert for proper diagnosis and management.
- Avoid allergens like house dust mite (present in carpets), Tobacco or other forms of smoke.
- Allow fresh air and sunlight inside your house.
- Bed sheets/blankets/pillow covers must be kept in sun light regularly to kill house dust mite.
- Keep the house and its bathroom/kitchen clean. Cockroaches are an asthma patient's biggest enemy.
- Use your metered dose inhalers available in aerosols or dry powders prescribed by the doctors regularly in order to prevent asthma attacks.
- Keep in mind that inhalers are safe and do not become a habit as commonly believed in Pakistan.
- Keep a check on your asthma control by using the questionnaire Asthma Control Test (ACT) available on the internet.
- Record your peak flow readings by using a small gadget called peak flow meter. Peak flow readings tell you about the degree of narrowing of your air tubes of lungs.
- Avoid active and passive smoking at all cost.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables .Keep in mind that asthma attacks are not precipitated by eating rice, yogurt, banana, ice cream or eggs as commonly believed in Pakistan.
- Do not discourage your children, with asthma, to take part in physical games and exercises.