More awareness is needed to beat asthma

Inhaler-stock-imageWhile many South Africans celebrated Worker’s Day on 1 May 2018, the world also commemorated a medical condition, which remains a silent killer globally - asthma. World Asthma Day (1 May 2018) was created by Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to raise awareness of this dreaded illness and urges people to seek medical advice.

It is estimated that over 300 million people worldwide currently suffer from asthma. Closer to home, a GINA report indicates that South Africa has the world’s fourth highest asthma death rate among people aged between five and 35.

Graham Anderson, chief executive officer of Profmed, says initiatives such as World Asthma Day are welcome and play an integral role in the fight against asthma.

‘Asthma is a very common affliction in South Africa, especially among children. Luckily, many children grow out of it as they get older. If left untreated or undetected, asthma could cause serious distress in a sufferer and could lead to death. This is why it is so important to remind people about the dangers of asthma and how it can be treated.’

While asthma is curable, advances in modern medicine has made it treatable and sufferers are able to lead normal lives. ‘However, because it is a chronic disease, you have patients who suffer so badly from it their entire lives that they have to virtually live on asthma pumps and medication.’

What causes asthma?

He explains that most cases of asthma are congenital. ‘If one of your parents has asthma, it dramatically increases your chances of having this affliction. However, it remains very difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of asthma, as many factors come into play.’

According to Asthma UK, research show that you are more likely to develop asthma when you have eczema or allergies, you had bronchiolitis as a child, you were born prematurely or were exposed to large quantities of second-hand smoke.

Anderson also warns that if left untreated, asthma could also lead to other medical conditions such as sleep apnea. ‘Once you have a compromised chest, very often this adds to other illnesses that specifically relate to the respiratory system. Therefore, it is paramount that you get tested and treat it as soon as possible.’

The Asthma Initiative of Michigan (AIM) provides the following warning signs and symptoms of asthma to look out for:

Early warning signs

An asthma attack is about to start

Symptoms of an asthma attack

If you find that you have some of the symptoms listed above, Profmed advises that you either seek urgent medical assistance or have yourself tested for asthma immediately.

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