Categories: Pulmonology

WORLD ASTHMA DAY 2021: Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions

Time when the entire world is struggling even to breathe, asthma patients challenges are unimaginable, which cannot be merely defined as breathing difficulty or persistent congestion. Asthma has already been an epidemic in India long before even COVID came; also people suffering from asthma or with severe respiratory issues are more at the risk of getting severity of COVID 19 infection. In prevailing times the very significance of World Asthma Day (WAD) (May 5, 2021) contains so much importance as the entire world needs to contemplate the overall wellbeing of the lungs and change lifestyle patterns accordingly.

World Asthma Day is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma, (GINA) (www.ginasthma.org), a World Health Organization collaborative organization founded in 1993. With the objective of raising awareness and spreading the right information every year in May month, this World Asthma Day is observed.

WHO recognizes that asthma has major public health importance. According to the WHO, it was estimated that more than 339 million people had Asthma globally and there were 417,918 deaths due to asthma at the global level in 2016. A study confirms that 1 out of every 10 Asthma patients in the world are from India; also its prevalence in children is far more disappointing. According to globalasthmareport.org among India’s 1.31 billion people, about 6% of children and 2% of adults have asthma.  The devastating state and surge these numbers reflect should be enough for us to take a proactive approach now.

As the lack of adherence and awareness are there just to add to the prevailing challenges, a significant number of misconceptions also revolves around asthma as a disease; also this year’s World Asthma Day’s theme has been set as “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions”. We need to understand that considering the severity and fatality of any disease people generally develop certain misconceptions about them out of fear.

Before getting into the misconceptions we need to process the right information about Asthma:-

What is Asthma? :-

Asthma is a disease in which mucus or inner layer of breathing airways of lungs are swollen and obstruct the right pattern of inhaling and exhaling. This condition results in coughing, breathing difficulty and asthma attacks in severe conditions.  It develops in childhood and affects adults also.

Causes:-

Generally, pollen and pollution are told to be majorly associated with asthma trigger but along with them in certain cases it develops due to hereditary issues as well. Asthma itself carries a wide area of diverse causes responsible for its development and getting severe. Smoking and consumption of alcohol can be potential causes of its development; also they can even worsen the prevailing condition of asthma and make it irresistible. Along with that in many cases processed food, junk food can cause some level of harm to an asthma patient.

Persistent asthma potentially causes irreversible damage to the lungs. Smoking history (which is disappointingly seen in many adults) additionally worsens it.

Mental health conditions like stress and depression can bring additional challenges for an asthma patient. Although the concept of “stress-induced asthma” is still being researched, stressful conditions may add to the severity of any diseases, so is with asthma.

Cure for Asthma??

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, but the same statement slightly applies to asthma. Recognising the symptoms early and right medication may reduce the upcoming risk. Hence although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma to reduce and ensure prevention from severity, it is also called episodes or exacerbations.

Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions:-

Now considering this year’s World Asthma Day theme is “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions”. The theme provides a call for action to address common widely prevailing myths and misconceptions around asthma. Such misconceptions at some level even affect their belief towards its right management and proper medication. They include :

  • Asthma is a childhood disease; individuals will grow out of it as they age.
  • Asthma is infectious.
  • Asthma sufferers should not exercise.
  • Asthma is only controllable with high dose steroids.

While the Truth is:

  • Asthma can occur at any age (in children, adolescents, adults and the elderly)
  • Asthma is not infectious. However, viral respiratory infections (such as the common cold and the flu) can cause asthma attacks. Or In children, asthma is frequently associated with allergy, but asthma which starts in adulthood is less often allergic.
  • When asthma is well controlled, asthma subjects are able to exercise and even perform the top sport.
  • Asthma is most often controllable with low dose inhaled steroids

Asthma in the time of COVID 19 Pandemic:-

In the process, one misconception also needs to be cleared especially considering the unfortunate times of the COVID pandemic we are living in. It is considered by a section of people that asthma patients are more at risk of getting infected than others. This is surely not true. The fact is that asthma patients are not at the extra risk of getting infected rather they are more prone to its severity if get infected. As their lungs are already slightly or majorly damaged and in certain cases they are immunity compromised as well, asthma patients surely need extra care in this prevailing time.

Asthma patients should not lose hope as life with asthma can be led normally if taken the best care of. There are some film stars, sportspersons and other celebrities who share their experiences with asthma and writing success stories in life simultaneously. Hence if you are also an Asthma patient please keep the following points in points:-

  • Always carry your prescribed medicines and inhaler in your carry bags wherever you go.
  • Avoid smoking and consumption of alcohol.
  • There are certain exercises that are advisable for asthma patients. Do them as per your concerned doctor’s advice.
  • Avoid unhealthy food and lead a healthy lifestyle.
  • Considering the prevailing COVID pandemic avoid going out if not necessary. Wear good quality masks with the right technique and follow COVID appropriate behaviour.
  • Be in contact with your concerned doctor and ask for help if needed. Never ignore even minor symptom.
  • Keep a positive approach towards life. No disease is bigger than a human’s will.
  • Take extra care of children in this regard. Give your best support to make their lives normal with this disease.

Dr. Navneet Sood, Consultant – Pulmonology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi

Narayana Health

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