World Asthma Day is celebrated annually on the first Tuesday of May each year. This year, it falls on the sixth of May. This annual event and its initiatives this year seek to create awareness about Asthma and the strategies to control the condition. The theme for this year, "You Can Control Your Asthma" is an encouragement to the multitude of sufferers and gives them the hope that 'Asthma is manageable'. Though Asthma cannot be cured, patients can learn the art of asthma management in order to lead fruitful lives.
AdvertisementAsthma is a chronic disease, which causes inflammation of the inner walls of the airways. Due to the inflammation, the airways become sensitive. Hence, they react adversely when exposed to allergens or irritants of any form causing them to constrict leading to a reduction in the flow of air to the lung tissue. This may manifest as breathing difficulty followed by coughing, tightness in the chest and wheezing.
The reason behind inflammation of the airways is not perfectly understood. Victims are allergic to several irritants in the environment, often a mix of pollutants which cause the airways to flare up. Latest research has pointed a connection between the early exposure to allergens, tobacco smoke, and pollution in the environment and the likelihood of asthma attacks in later life. Asthma is also familial and genetic, research shows. So, those who have asthma sufferers in the family must be on guard.
Asthma attacks range from mild, to moderate and severe. Life threatening conditions can arise during severe attacks especially in the absence of critical care. The first step in controlling asthma would be to approach a medical specialist who will evaluate the condition, sort out the allergens that irritate the airways, and provide the necessary medications for relief. The specialist is also equipped to educate the victim and family with an action plan during an emergency.
Understanding Causes & Symptoms
Triggers in the environment in the form of allergens can cause asthma. For some, viral infections can give rise to the condition. Some victims sense an attack coming after any form of physical activity, called as exercise induced asthma.
Broadly asthma triggers can be the following:
· Cockroaches, dust mites
· Animal dander
· Pollen from trees and grass
· Air pollution
· Tobacco smoke
· Weather changes
· Cold air
· Strong smells
· Strong emotions for instance laughing bouts or even crying
· Viral infections
These triggers can manifest as an asthma attack which could cause the victim to cough, or wheeze, experience chest tightness and shortness of breath. The symptoms can differ with each attack ranging from mild to very severe, and in some cases can also be life threatening.
The central goal of any asthma treatment plan is to help control the condition.
Medical specialists are equipped to evaluate the condition and work the treatment plan which would employ the use of medicines prescribed for quick relief as well as medicines for an extended period of time, to keep a check on the symptoms.
Quick-relief medicines called as bronchodilators are advised during the initial signs of asthma symptoms to aid instant relief. These medicines are inhaled directly into the lungs causing the airways to open up restoring the normal flow of air into the lungs.
Long-term medicines could also be prescribed for chronic asthma sufferers. Inhaled corticosteroids are employed to reduce the swelling in the airway which alleviates asthma.
The ultimate objective of managing asthma is to use the least amount of medicines to achieve control over the condition.
Peak Flow Meter Asthma Monitor
Monitoring asthma is integral to the 'control asthma' plan. It helps recognize symptoms before they worsen.
To monitor the functioning of the lungs on a daily basis in the comfort of ones home, the doctor may advice the use of a handy device called the peak flow meter.
The peak flow meter enables a measure of the effectiveness of breathing and can warn of an impending asthma attack even before the symptoms arrive. Essentially, the device enables the timely start of asthma management before matters go out of hand.
Coping with Asthma
Controlling asthma means living by a set of rules which includes regular medical checkups to evaluate the condition. This also necessitates that prescribed medicines be taken correctly.
It is also imperative to understand the triggers and limit exposure to them. This will bring down the incidences of the condition.
Parents of children suffering asthma need to be watchful for symptoms. Expecting mothers need to control the condition as falling oxygen levels in the blood could cause life- altering abnormalities in the growing fetus. The good news is that most asthma medications are safe for pregnant women.
Further, asthma sufferers need not be wary of sports or physical activity. Those with exercise- induced asthma can use quick action medicines like the inhaler which works wonders.
The crucial message of World Asthma Day is "You can control Asthma" and live life just as any other person would. Having asthma does not mean giving up on something to cope, but coping and living without giving up!