Stating that the medical infrastructure and awareness about asthma had significantly gone up in the country, the doctor said more awareness programmes and focus on providing less expensive medication was necessary to fight the "chronic inflammatory decease" that can become fatal if not treated properly.
‘India has 20 million asthma patients and this number is on the rise. Steroids are important for asthma treatment and experts say less costly steroids should be made more available to make the treatment more affordable.’
"Around 20 million people in India suffer from asthma. It is roughly 10 per cent of the global number of asthmatic patients. So certainly a greater sense of awareness, preventive measures and proper detection and treatment is necessary," said Subhra Mitra, Head of the Department of Pulmonology in Calcutta National Medical College here.
"Asthma is hereditary. The genetic factors interact with environmental factors such as pollution to trigger asthma. Also viral infections and obesity acts as a trigger for asthma among the teenagers," he said on the eve of World Asthma Day.
The doctor said while the number of asthmatic patients in India is quite high, the attacks are not as frequent as in Australia and certain European countries where asthma has a higher rate due to certain genetic reasons.
Talking about the available ways to treat the disease, Mitra stressed on the importance of going for a therapeutic remedy once asthma is diagnosed instead of rescue medication. He said inhalation therapy was the mainstay of treatment for asthma.
"Steroid is the backbone of asthma treatment. We always suggest the inhalation therapy as it involves lower consumption of steroid and can deliver the drugs directly to the lungs which is more effective," he pointed out.
The doctor said less costly steroids should be more in circulation to make the treatment more affordable.
"In case of inhalation, the steroid dosage is in micro-grams while oral medicines are in mili-grams. So the inhale route has lesser side effects. Inhaled medications have been shown to improve disease status and reduce the number and severity of asthma exacerbation," he said.
He also stressed on the importance of following a proper detection process like Pulmonary Function Test before starting the treatment for asthma.