Asthma is a long-term condition affecting children and adults. The air passages in the lungs become narrow due to inflammation and tightening of the muscles around the small airways. This causes asthma symptoms such as cough, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. These symptoms are intermittent and are often worse at night or during exercise.
Other common triggers can make asthma symptoms worse. Triggers vary from person to person but can include viral infections (colds), dust, smoke, fumes, changes in the weather, grass and tree pollen, animal fur and feathers, strong soaps and perfume, food, spices and all. Asthma is often underdiagnosed and under-treated, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
People with under-treated asthma can suffer sleep disturbance, tiredness during the day, and poor concentration. Asthma sufferers and their families may miss school and work, with a financial impact on the family and wider community. If symptoms are severe, people with asthma may need to receive emergency health care and they may be admitted to the hospital for treatment and monitoring. In the most severe cases, asthma can lead to death.
Many factors have been linked to an increased risk of developing asthma, although it is often difficult to find a single, direct cause.
Asthma is more likely if other family members also have asthma – particularly a close relative, such as a parent or sibling.
Asthma is more likely in people who have other allergic conditions, such as eczema and rhinitis (hay fever).
Urbanization is associated with increased asthma prevalence, probably due to multiple lifestyle factors.
Events in early life affect the developing lungs and can increase the risk of asthma. These include low birth weight, prematurity, exposure to tobacco smoke and other sources of air pollution, as well as viral respiratory infections.
Exposure to a range of environmental allergens and irritants are also thought to increase the risk of asthma, including indoor and outdoor air pollution, house dust mites, moulds, and occupational exposure to chemicals, fumes or dust.
Children and adults who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk of asthma.
Reducing the burden of asthma
Asthma cannot be cured, but good management with inhaled medications can control the disease and enable people with asthma to enjoy a normal, active life.
There are two main types of inhalers:
Bronchodilators (such as salbutamol), that open the air passages and relieve symptoms; and steroids (such as beclometasone), that reduce inflammation in the air passages. This improves asthma symptoms and reduces the risk of severe asthma attacks and death. People with asthma may need to use their inhalers every day. Their treatment will depend on the frequency of symptoms and the different types of inhalers available.
It can be difficult to coordinate breathing using an inhaler, especially for children and during emergency situations. Using a spacer device makes it easier to use an aerosol inhaler and helps the medicine to reach the lungs more effectively. A spacer is a plastic container with a mouthpiece or mask at one end and a hole for the inhaler in the other. A homemade spacer, made from a 500ml plastic bottle, can be as effective as a commercially manufactured inhaler.
Access to inhalers is a problem in many countries. In 2021, bronchodilators were available in public primary health care facilities in half of low- and low-middle-income countries, and steroid inhalers were available in one-third.
People with asthma and their families need education to understand more about their asthma, their treatment, triggers to avoid, and how to manage their symptoms at home. It is also important to raise community awareness to reduce the myths and stigma associated with asthma in some settings.
One key thing anyone living with asthma must know is the triggers, knowing your trigger and avoiding them will go a long way in helping you deal effectively with asthma. One other thing if you have asthma you must avoid is sexually enhancing drugs, do not use too much aphrodisiac, it is extremely dangerous to your health and can lead to instant attacks.
Also, learn not to stress yourself too much, and learn to control your stress, extreme stress can lead to constant attacks and that is also dangerous to your health. In as much as it is believed that asthma can’t be cured but managed, I believe that you can effectively reduce the constant attacks down to no attacks at all if you know how to deal with your trickers with proper medication.
Asthma is dangerous and can kill if not managed well, so therefore if you are living with asthma, know your dos and don’ts and strictly live by them. Also, remember to pray to the healer, the God of miracles, who is capable and able to heal you completely from it all.