World Asthma Day 2015 draws near, it is important that we take stock of the
problem of asthma, understand the challenges ahead and look for strategies to
cope with the condition. Asthma was once a condition that most Indians regarded
as an urban or developed world condition, but what was once an uncommon
condition is now widespread here at home. With our growing urban sprawl, rising
pollution levels, increased environmental destruction and accelerated global
climate change, the problem is only mushrooming and could increase
exponentially within a few decades.
to WHO estimates, asthma affects a whopping 235 million people across the
world. It is one of the most well-known of all chronic respiratory
and like most chronic diseases, it cannot be cured with
treatment. A patient who suffers from asthma will experience breathing problems
throughout his or her life and treatment can only help to relieve the symptoms
and to improve respiratory function. Living with asthma can therefore be quite
a burden and it is something that we should all be concerned about, whether or
not it affects us directly.
Life as an Asthmatic
child should be denied the freedom of being able to run outdoors during their
summer holidays or during a trip to the countryside. Kids should be able to
enjoy their contact with nature and should be able to indulge in their boisterous
games or 'tea-parties' without having to cling to that inhaler and without
their parents having to worry about the risk of their child succumbing to
asphyxiation. Sadly, this is not to be as the number of kids being affected by a asthma
keeps rising steadily. The problem of asthma
in children has grown significantly and efforts need to be made to better train
and equip caregivers to cope with emergency situations that could arise when
dealing with childhood asthma.
often develops in childhood, but it can affect children and adults alike. The
condition develops as a result of an allergic reaction, with the respiratory
tract becoming hyper responsive to certain allergens like dust, tobacco smoke
and pollen. Contact with such allergens results in the inflammation and
irritation of the airways called bronchi. The inflammation of these airways
results in their narrowing, which consequently affects airflow and causes
symptoms like breathlessness, wheezing, tightness in the chest and coughing.
These symptoms can vary in severity, may be persistent, and they worsen and can
become almost debilitating under certain circumstances. When this happens it is
referred to as an asthma attack.
attacks sometimes develop slowly, with symptoms gradually worsening over a
couple of days but there can also be a rapid onset of symptoms in severe
attacks. In such cases there is little warning, and timely intervention is
critical. In other words, parents and caregivers for asthmatics and asthmatics
themselves always need to be watchful and vary of any of the symptoms of an
asthma attack. Living with asthma doesn't just affect your physical abilities
and quality of life; it also affects your mental and emotional well being
because of the near constant state of stress and anxiety.
Why is Asthma Increasing and What Can We Do?
is estimated that currently asthma affects around 20 million Indians and these
numbers are only growing. Although the precise causes of asthma are not clearly
understood, no one can deny the link between rising levels of pollution and the
increased incidence of asthma. While there are other factors that may
contribute to the development of asthma like heredity and modern hygiene
standards, environmental irritants and allergens like dust, smoke, particulate
matter and pollen have the biggest impact on the severity and onset of symptoms.
most important step we can take towards combating the problem would be to raise
awareness about asthma screening and asthma management strategies. Screening
tests can help significantly as timely action can help to avert any
complications. Moreover, although treatment for asthma cannot cure the
condition it is extremely effective in controlling it. While preventive tips
and coping strategies can help individuals affected, their scope is
increasingly limited as we do not live in isolation. Tackling asthma requires a
concerted action and as a society we need to address the burgeoning problem of
pollution and the simultaneous threat of deforestation.
change affects air quality and poses a huge threat to asthmatics. Because of
climate change, we are faced with rising temperatures, elevated levels of
ground-level ozone, increase in particulate matter and extreme weather events,
all of which exacerbate asthma symptoms. While tackling climate change may
require a collective effort, we can be individually responsible and take steps
to reduce our carbon footprint and to improve the quality of air. If you are a
smoker, quit smoking; if you drive a car, try to use public transport
occasionally and use your car only when necessary; lower your energy
consumption and avoid wastage of non-renewable resources.
the quality of air is ultimately in all our interests, as this would reduce the
risk of most lung diseases like bronchitis,