BAHRAIN joined the world in marking Asthma Day yesterday by hosting educational workshops, events and activities to raise awareness about the chronic chest disease.
World Asthma Day (WAD) organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), a World Health Organisation (WHO) collaborative founded in 1993, focused on this year’s theme of ‘Asthma Care for All’.
In the kingdom, the Health Ministry aims to help improve the quality of life for asthma patients, as well as encourage healthy lifestyles to reduce the number of potentially fatal attacks.
“Uncontrolled asthma has major consequences for people living with asthma, their families and communities, health-care systems and national economies,” said WHO’s director of the Department of Non-communicable Diseases Dr Bente Mikkelsen. “It is shocking that every day children and adults suffer needlessly from symptoms that could be prevented with essential inhaled medicines.
“A huge effort is needed to accelerate universal health coverage and meet the Sustainable Development Goal commitments that have been made.”
Asthma is one of the most common non-communicable diseases that affects the lungs and the bronchi, which causes the airways to be narrow and highly sensitive to certain factors in the air.
It can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, produce a whistling sound (wheezing) when you breathe out, shortness of breath and chest pain.
The most common factors for developing asthma include having a parent with the disease, having a severe respiratory infection as a child, having an allergic condition, or being exposed to certain chemical irritants or industrial dusts in the workplace.
One sufferer in Bahrain told the GDN that his condition worsened during changes in climate, sandy conditions and traffic pollution.
According to WHO, it has affected an estimated 262 million people and continues to cause nearly half a million deaths annually.
And, while it cannot be cured, people with the disease can enjoy a normal life if correctly diagnosed and treated with essential medicines such as inhalers that contain both bronchodilators and steroids.
To help raise awareness, WHO experts have launched five tips on how to better manage the disease.
l Asthmatic individuals should be aware of their symptoms. Coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing are all signs that the asthma is not well controlled. If symptoms are getting worse, check with your doctor and use a reliever inhaler with a spacer to open your airways.
l Identify triggers and avoid them. Common triggers include smoke, fumes, viral infections, pollen and changes in the weather, animal fur and feathers as well as strong fragrances. If you are unaware of what affects you, make sure to keep an inhaler handy.
l Know your inhalers. Different inhalers have different functions. A reliever inhaler, also called a bronchodilator, opens up the small airways and improves airflow in and out of the lungs. A steroid or preventer inhaler reduces inflammation in the lungs and is an essential part of long-term asthma treatment. Apparently, inhalers are the safest, most effective treatment for asthmatic patients to live an active life.
l Use a spacer, which is a plastic chamber that connects the inhaler at one end, to your mouth via a mouthpiece or mask at the other end. It can help inhaled medicines to reach the small airways in the lungs and work better. Although some types of inhalers do not need a spacer.
l Take back control. Ask your doctor to explain how your inhaled medicines work and how you should use them. Make sure your friends and family also know what to do if your asthma is bad.