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Asthma can be controlled- Stop compromising!

According to a survey, over 15.000 households in Pakistan showed very low level of asthma control.

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide. Over the years, its prevalence has increased in many countries including Pakistan. More than 300 million people around the world have asthma, and the disease imposes a heavy burden on individuals, families, and societies. In spite of knowing all the damages this heinous disease has caused to many innocent souls, this disease is ignored by the masses that remain ignorant about the fact that it can be controlled.

Some people with asthma symptoms may never receive a diagnosis of asthma, and thus do not have the opportunity for good asthma treatment and control. Various factors such as poor access to medical care, under-recognition by health professionals, lack of awareness among patients, and overlap of asthma symptoms with those of other diseases contribute to under-diagnosis of asthma.

Poor compliance is one of the major problems in management of asthma and lack of knowledge and understanding about this disease is the reason for the poor compliance. People especially in our society misinterpret the symptoms of asthma as chest infections or bronchitis and continue their self medication until it gets severe. Moreover if the patients do know about having this disease, they simply give up thinking that this disease can be controlled or managed. However, the reality is entirely different.

GOAL – Gaining Optimum Asthma Control – a globally recognised and clinically approved study, concludes that though asthma cannot be cured, ‘total control’ of asthma is possible. With what is known as combination therapy – incorporating Salmetrol and Fluticasone, the first, treating constriction of the airways and the second, acting as the anti-inflammatory component of the combination, together, they relieve the symptoms of coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. The combination is available as a single ‘controller medication’ in the form of an Inhaler, regular use of which- two puffs in the morning and two at night – helps achieve total control over asthma.  And unlike the belief, it is not addictive but regular use helps in managing asthma.

According to the GINA Global Initiative for Asthma Management and Prevention (2007), asthma control means that a person with asthma has:

Normal peak expiratory flow rate (as measured by a simple ‘Spirometry’ test)

No symptoms in seven weeks out of an eight-week phase

Normal (or near-normal) lung function test results

No need for use of rescue medication (that is, medication for temporary relief)

No exacerbation or emergency visits

No adverse events

One reason is that asthma sufferers often just do not know that control is possible and even if they do, tend to have low expectations regarding the possibility of control of their condition. However, an asthmatic individual with total control easily carries out his or her daily routine, exercises and participates in sports activities.

One should keep in mind that asthma control is achievable with a healthy doctor-patient relationship. And it’s always good to get yourself tested against asthma so as to control the disease at the initial stages. The Asthma Control Test – ACT – is an easily available test that lists key questions related to night and daytime symptoms, physical activities, and use of rescue medication in the preceding four-week period.

In Pakistan, people with asthma are highly exposed to conditions such as outdoor or indoor air pollution, cigarette smoke, or chemicals on the job that make their asthma worse. Avoiding risk factors that cause asthma symptoms is an important strategy for improving control.

It’s not your fault if you have asthma, but it surely would be your fault if you continue to lead a compromised life after knowing all the facts.

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