Asthma: what you should know

Asthma is a major Noncommunicable disease, a clinical syndrome of chronic airway inflammation characterized by recurrent, reversible, airway obstruction. Airway inflammation also leads to airway hyperreactivity, which causes airways to narrow in response to various stimuli.

According to WHO in 2016, It was estimated that more than 339 million people suffer from asthma of which majority were among children. Asthma remains a leading cause of missed workdays. It is also responsible for 1.5 million emergency department visits annually and up to 500,000 hospitalizations. Asthma is the most common noncommunicable disease among children. Most deaths occur in older adults.

The classic signs and symptoms of asthma are shortness of breath, cough (often worse at night), and wheezing (high-pitched whistling sound produced by turbulent airflow through narrow airways, typically with exhalation). Many patients also report chest tightness. Although asthma cannot be cured, It is important to note that these symptoms are episodic, and individuals with asthma can go long periods without any symptoms.

The Advent of asthma in an individual can be attributed to either or both of these two factors: Genetic predisposition and Environmental factors. These factors, also known as Allergens are substances that provoke allergic reactions which irritate the airways and causes it to be inflamed. Examples of allergens includes dust, mites, chemical irritants, smoke, pollens, moulds, air pollution, cold air; others could be extreme emotional arousal such as anger or fear, and physical exercise. Certain medications can also trigger asthma like aspirin and other non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, and beta-blockers (which are used to treat high blood pressure, heart conditions and migraine).

When providing first aid treatment for an asthmatic patient in case of an asthmatic attack at home, at work, an event, or anywhere at all, these are the procedures to take before rushing the victim to the nearest hospital for further attention:
1.The victim should be reassured and not panic,
2. The victim should be moved to an open space where there is adequate ventilation,
3. The victim should be assisted to sit upright (cardiac position),
4. If the victim is conscious, he would be asked where to get his medications e.g inhaler,
5. The victim should be helped to a nearby healthcare facility to immediately seek medical attention.

Although, asthma do not kill on the scale of other chronic diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but failure to take appropriate medications or adhere to treatment can lead to death. So, it is necessary for asthmatic patients to take appropriate medications and at all cost avoid an environment with triggers (factors) that pose the occurrence of another asthmatic attack so as that the disease can be well controlled and they can enjoy a good quality of life.

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