Breathe free

Asthma is probably one of the most common illness we see around us or suffer from, ourselves, and yet know little to nothing about it.
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)

HYDERABAD: Asthma is probably one of the most common illnesses we see around us or suffer from, ourselves, and yet know little to nothing about it. From sitcoms to rap lyrics, we’ve heard about asthma but doctors believe not much is done to raise awareness about this illness. On this World Asthma Day, CE speaks to doctors who seek to raise awareness on the disease.

“Asthma is an ever-growing problem, and more so, over the past few years. There is a prevalence of about 15-20 per cent in the general population. Asthma is a simple to diagnose disease but has so many challenges in the treatment/management and public understanding of the care of this reasonably controllable disease,” says Dr Sudheer Nadimpalli, senior consultant pulmonologist, Care Hospital, HITEC City.

Asthma is a chronic condition associated with inflammation of the airways of the lung, says Dr Viswesvaran Balasubramanian, consultant interventional pulmonology, and sleep medicine, at Yashoda Hospitals, Malakpet. He adds, “Though predominantly seen amongst children and adolescents and in those with a family history of allergy and atopy, it can affect people across all age groups and can be seen even amongst those without a significant family history of allergy,” he informs.

Smoking, exposure to house dust mites, fungal spores, indoor and outdoor pollution can increase the chances of developing asthma in a genetically susceptible individual, the doc says, making carpenters, bakers, health care and pharmaceutical workers, among others, at higher risk of developing occupational asthma.

Surprisingly, not many know that they have asthma until they’re sick enough to land in a hospital. It’s often ignored thinking it’s a common cold. “Typical symptoms of asthma include episodic intermittent cough and difficulty in breathing associated with wheeze and are seen more often during night time, cooler temperatures, and with the change of seasons. In addition, patients may also suffer from running nose, nasal block, headache and itchy skin rashes which are generally episodic and seen with the change of seasons, hence the tendency to brush it off as cold,” Dr Viswesvaran adds.

The most common misconception in society is about ‘finding a cure' for asthma, says Dr Sudheer. “People should realise that this is something similar to diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure), both of which, do not have a cure,” he says, adding that one can definitely control asthma with the medication that’s currently available.

The recent Covid-19 infection has brought about an asthma-like behaviour in some patients who were never asthmatics, and this is something we might have to wait and watch. “Some of the asthmatics have had a worsening of their asthma post-Covid,” Dr Sudheer says.

Dr E Ravinder Reddy, senior pulmonologist, Kamineni Hospital, L.B Nagar says, “The aim of treatment is to prevent symptoms and prevent emergency admissions. Now it is important to recognise different asthma triggers and to know when asthma symptoms are getting worse. It may help patients identify when to consult a doctor for better prevention. Patients need to come for regular follow up to make a proper action plan to control asthma.”

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