A chronic inflammatory lung disease, asthma is identified by periodic attacks of breathlessness and wheezing. Though the exact cause is not known, allergens, tobacco smoke and chemical irritants are known asthma triggers.
Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) which works worldwide to reduce asthma prevalence is observing World Asthma Day on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. The theme this year is, “It’s Time to Control Asthma.” A healthy diet, an active lifestyle and the right medications play a crucial role in keeping your asthma under control.
- About 235 million people currently suffer from asthma.
- Asthma is the most common non-communicable disease among children.
Asthma attack symptoms
An asthma patient can have a flare-up of symptoms at any time. This sudden and severe worsening is called an asthma attack, and it can vary between mild, severe and life threatening. Take a look at the table below to recognize the symptoms and the control measures:
|Mild/moderate symptoms||Minor difficulty in breathing, may cough or wheeze, can talk & move around.||First aid assistance|
|Severe symptoms||Evident difficulty in breathing, may cough or wheeze, cannot speak a sentence in a breath, reliever medication not lasting as long as usual.||1. First aid assistance2. Take emergency medical help.|
|Life-threatening symptoms||Gasping for breath, no cough or wheeze, unable to speak properly, exhausted, no response to reliever medication.||1. First aid assistance2. Take emergency medical help.|
First aid assistance
The standard asthma first aid procedure can be learnt by anyone and is safe for adults and kids. Stay calm and start the first aid once you recognize an asthma attack.
- Sit the person upright. Be calm, comforting and do not leave the patients alone.
- Provide 4 separate puffs of blue/grey reliever puffer. Shake, put 1 puff into the spacer and give 4 breaths from the spacer.
- Wait for four minutes. Give 4 more separate puffs if there are no signs of improvement.
- Call an ambulance. Till it arrives, continue giving 4 separate puffs every 4 minutes.
Long-term asthma management
After asthma is diagnosed, the goal of long-term management is to reduce impairment and reduce risk by the following measures:
- Prevention of chronic symptoms
- Maintenance of normal lung function and activity levels
- Prevention of exacerbation
- Minimize need for emergency care and hospitalizations
- Prevention of loss of lung function
Since there is no cure for asthma and the symptoms can be effectively controlled with treatment and management, it is important to take your medications as directed and avoid attack triggers.
Inhaled corticosteroids alone or in combination with long-acting beta-agonists (LABA), leukotriene modifiers and short-acting beta-agonists are some of the medicine classes currently used to provide symptomatic relief from asthma. Managing your asthma also includes smoking cessation, weight reduction and allergen avoidance.
Allergy and asthma
Try and stay away from these allergens:
- Animal skin/saliva
- Tobacco smoke
- Dust mites
- Cockroach particles
- Chemical irritants
- Air pollutants
Did You Know?
Asthma sufferers should be vaccinated annually as they are at an increased risk of developing complications from respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia.