What do Amitabh Bachchan, David Beckham, Amy Van Dyken, Pink and Jessica Alba have in common? They are celebrities battling asthma!! Asthma, a chronic disease of the lungs causes severe breathing problems. Patients are afflicted with breathlessness, coughing, wheezing and feelings of tightness in the chest. Symptoms often vary in frequency and severity and in extreme cases airways get inflamed making it difficult to breathe.
World Asthma Day observed on the first Tuesday of May across the world is an attempt to draw attention to this debilitating disease. The day is meant to raise awareness, care and support for people affected by asthma as also to support extended family members, friends and caregivers. Whilst asthma may not be easy to cure, the symptoms of the disease can be controlled, allowing affected people to live near-normal lives.
World Asthma Day endeavors to increase awareness in the general public about the precautions to be understood in dealing with asthma. Global Initiative for Asthma or GINA as it is popularly referred to works for asthma awareness all over the world. It was in 1998 that GINA along with 35 countries initiated the first World Asthma Meeting in Barcelona, Spain. It has since carried on spreading awareness on all fronts regarding controlling the disease. The intent of world asthma day is to organize programs and events to fulfill the following objectives:
- To improve asthma care.
- To identify patients for accurate treatment of primary or secondary level, based on standard guidelines.
- Maximize the number of people without asthma and minimize the number of people with asthma to get proper control.
- Reduce death rates caused by the asthma.
- Enroll all the asthma patients to ensure that all patients are diagnosed and getting treatment.
- To reduce emergency department visits as also number of days spent by asthmatic patients in hospitals.
World Asthma Day highlights the need to offer positive steps in learning to cope with the disease. This basically requires preparing a personal asthma management plan with the help of doctor. Tailor-made for every patient, it covers time of medication and risk factors to be avoided. Medications are essential to relieve symptoms of asthma as well as to control inflammation and swelling of the airways.
Patients really need to educate themselves of risk factors which can bring on symptoms and make the condition worse. So they are taught to recognize when the symptoms might become worse. Patients need to be well prepared in case of an asthma attack. They must have about them a card that informs others about their condition, giving instructions as to what is to be done in case of a severe asthma attack. World Asthma Day therefore has medical organizations all across the world taking up activities that raise awareness on the issues around asthma and also offering resources for,
- Free asthma screening clinics
- Media advertisements – radio, TV, internet
- Organizing lectures/talks on factors affecting asthma patients
- Setting up asthma telephone help lines
- Educating children about asthma
For asthma patients it is very important to keep in mind certain tips to prevent an asthmatic attack. Avoid flowers and pollen, especially at particular times in the year. Choose natural room fresheners. Avoid being around smokers since inhalation of fumes can being on an attack. Avoid having pets as they may be a source of allergens. Consult the doctor regularly even when everything is in control. Regular check-ups are essential in management of asthma. Share your doctor’s number with close friends and relatives, in case of emergency.
Asthma patients need to get regular exercise that is the best strategy to manage asthma to increase lung capacity. Deep breathing has a number of health benefits and works wonders for asthmatics. Also get nutritional supplements like Vitamin E, C, selenium, zinc, B6, B3, B12 magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and improve immune response. Drink enough water. Avoid stress. Always carry inhaler. Always have a spare inhaler.