ASTHMA
 
Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing, which vary in severity and frequency from person to person. During an asthma attack, the lining of the bronchial tubes swells, causing the airways to narrow and reducing the flow of air into and out of the lungs.

The causes of asthma are not completely understood. However, risk factors for developing asthma include inhaling asthma “triggers”, such as allergens, tobacco smoke and chemical irritants. Asthma cannot be cured, but appropriate management can control the disorder and enable people to enjoy a good quality of life.

What triggers an asthma attack?

Q: What triggers/initiates an asthma attack?

A: Asthma is a chronic breathing disorder characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing. Some causes and triggers are common to all people with asthma, and some are more individual. Although the fundamental causes of asthma are not completely understood, the strongest risk factors for developing asthma are inhaled asthma triggers. These include:

* indoor allergens (for example house dust mites in bedding, carpets and stuffed furniture, pollution and pet dander);
* outdoor allergens (such as pollens and moulds); tobacco smoke; and
* chemical irritants in the workplace.
Other triggers can include cold air, extreme emotional arousal such as anger or fear, and physical exercise.
In some people, asthma can even be triggered by certain medications, such as aspirin and other non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, and beta-blockers (which are used to treat high blood pressure, heart conditions and migraine). Urbanization has also been associated with an increase in asthma, however the exact nature of this relationship is unclear.

According to WHO estimates, 235 million people suffer from asthma globally. Although asthma cannot be cured, appropriate management can control the disorder and enable people to enjoy good quality of life. In addition, some children with milder forms of asthma outgrow their symptoms with age. (www.who.int)

Key facts

Asthma is one of the major non-communicable diseases. It is a chronic disease of the the air passages of the lungs which inflames and narrows them.
Some 235 million people currently suffer from asthma. It is a common disease among children.
Most asthma-related deaths occur in low- and lower-middle income countries.
The strongest risk factors for developing asthma are inhaled substances and particles that may provoke allergic reactions or irritate the airways.
Medications (anti asthmatic drugs such as.......) can control asthma.

Avoiding/staying away from asthma triggers can also reduce the severity of asthma. Appropriate management of asthma can enable people to enjoy good quality life and probably decrease mortality rates induced by asthma..

Symptoms may occur several times in a day or in a week in affected individuals, and even for some people it becomes worse during physical/stressful activities or even at night.

During an asthma attack, the epithelial lining of the bronchial tubes expand/contracts (swells), causing the airways to close in /cave in (narrow in) thus reducing the flow of air into and out of the lungs. Recurrent asthma symptoms frequently cause sleeplessness, daytime fatigue, reduced activity levels and school and work absenteeism. Asthma has a relatively low fatality rate compared to other chronic diseases.

Facts about asthma

WHO estimates that 235 million people currently suffer from asthma. Asthma is the most common non-communicable disease among children.
Asthma is a public health problem not just for high-income countries; it occurs in all countries regardless of the level of development. Most asthma-related deaths occur in low- and lower-middle income countries.
Asthma is under-diagnosed and under-treated. It creates substantial burden to individuals and families and often restricts individuals’ activities for a lifetime.

Solution

* Reducing the asthma burden although asthma cannot be cured, appropriate management can control the disease and enable people to enjoy a good quality of life.
* Short-term medications are used to relieve symptoms. Medications such as long-term inhaled steroids are needed to control the progression of severe asthma.
People with persistent symptoms must take long-term medication daily to control the underlying inflammation and prevent symptoms and exacerbations. Inadequate access to medicines is one of the important reasons for the poor control of asthma in many settings.

Medication is not the only way to control asthma. It is also important to avoid asthma triggers - stimuli that irritate and inflame the airways. With medical support, each asthma patient must learn what triggers he or she should avoid.

Although asthma does not kill on the scale of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other chronic diseases, failure to use appropriate medications or to adhere to treatment can lead to death.

WHO strategy for prevention and control of asthma
WHO recognizes that asthma is of major public health importance. The Organization plays a role in coordinating international efforts against the disease. The aim of its strategy is to support Member States in their efforts to reduce the disability and premature death related to asthma.

WHO's programme objectives are:

surveillance to map the magnitude of asthma, analyse its determinants and monitor trends, with emphasis on poor and disadvantaged populations;
primary prevention to reduce the level of exposure to common risk factors, particularly tobacco smoke, frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood, and air pollution (indoor, outdoor, and occupational exposure); and
improving access to cost-effective interventions including medicines, upgrading standards and accessibility of care at different levels of the health care system.
Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases:
The Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD) contributes to WHO’s work to prevent and control chronic respiratory diseases. It is a voluntary alliance of national and international organizations and agencies from many countries. It focuses on the needs of low- and middle-income countries and vulnerable populations, and fosters initiatives that are tailored to local needs.

facts on asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing. It is the most common chronic disease among children, it currently affects 235 million people (www.who.int)

This fact file profiles the symptoms and risk factors of asthma and includes a selection of the winning entries from the 16th annual "Living with Asthma" poster contest in 2006. The contest was open to children (6-14 years) from the United States of America who suffer from asthma. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) and the American Academy of Pediatrics jointly sponsored the contest.

 
 
 
 

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