World Asthma Day

One in every 10 asthma patients in the world are in India where around 3 crore people suffer from asthma.

  • One in every 10 asthma patients in the world is in India
  • In India, around 2 crore people suffer from asthma.
  • India has an estimated 1.5-2 crore asthma patients and rough estimates indicate its prevalence between 10% and 15% in 5-11 year old children

ABOUT ASTHMA

Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell in addition to producing extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Although asthma cannot be cured, its symptoms can be controlled. Because asthma often changes over time, it's important that you work with your doctor to track your signs and symptoms to adjust treatment as needed.

SYMPTOMS

  • Shortness of breath
  • A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu

CAUSES

  • Allergies
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Environmental factors
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress
  • Genetics

PREVENTION

  • Follow your asthma action plan. Asthma is an ongoing condition that needs regular monitoring and treatment.
  • Get vaccinated for influenza and pneumonia. Staying current with vaccinations can prevent flu and pneumonia from triggering asthma flare-ups.
  • Identify and avoid asthma triggers. A number of outdoor allergens and irritants ranging from pollen and mold to cold air and air pollution can trigger asthma attacks.
  • Monitor your breathing. You may learn to recognize warning signs of an impending attack, such as slight coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath.
  • Identify and treat attacks early. If you act quickly, you are less likely to have a severe attack.
  • Take your medication as prescribed. Just because your asthma seems to be improving, don't change anything without first talking to your doctor.
  • Pay attention to increasing quick-relief inhaler use. If you find yourself relying on your quick-relief inhaler, such as Albuterol, your asthma isn't under control and you should see your doctor about adjusting your treatment.

WHAT IS AN ASTHMA ATTACK?

An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms caused by the tightening of muscles around your airways (bronchospasm). During the asthma attack, the lining of the airways also becomes swollen or inflamed and thicker mucus - more than normal - is produced. Other symptoms of an asthma attack may include:

  • Severe wheezing while breathing
  • Coughing that won't stop
  • Very rapid breathing
  • Chest tightness or pressure
  • Tightened neck and chest muscles called retractions
  • Difficulty talking
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic
  • Blue lips or fingernails
  • Pale, sweaty face
  • Or worsening symptoms despite use of your medications

DIAGNOSIS OF ASTHMA

  • Physical exam:

To rule out other possible conditions such as a respiratory infection or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your signs and symptoms and about any other health problems.

  • Tests to measure lung function:

You may also be given lung (pulmonary) function tests to determine how much air moves in and out as you breathe. These tests may include:

Spirometry - This test estimates the narrowing of your bronchial tubes by checking how much air you can exhale after a deep breath and how fast you can breathe out.
Peak flow - A peak flow meter is a simple device that measures how hard you can breathe out.

TREATMENT

Inhaler - Treatment usually involves learning to recognize your triggers, taking steps to avoid them and tracking your breathing to make sure your daily asthma medications are keeping symptoms under control. In case of an asthma flare-up, you may need to use a quick-relief inhaler, such as Albuterol.
Bronchial Thermoplasty - This treatment is used for severe asthma that doesn't improve with inhaled corticosteroids or other long-term asthma medications. Bronchial Thermoplasty heats the insides of the airways in the lungs with an electrode, reducing the smooth muscle inside the airways. This limits the ability of the airways to tighten, making breathing easier and possibly reducing asthma attacks.

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