Asthma is a common, chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that affects people of all ages. India is estimated to have at least 10 per cent of the global cases. Dr M Harish, consultant pulmonologist, Chennai Meenakshi Multispecialty Hospital and Kauvery Hospital, says that most of them start with inhalers and over a period, stop medication, assuming that in the absence of symptoms, they can stay off medications.
“Symptoms will recur if they are exposed to agents that trigger the attack. One must start therapy, adhere to it for six months and step down medicines rather than stopping it suddenly,” he said. He adds that one can lead a near normal life, provided they follow doctors’ instructions. “You can pursue any physical activity, despite suffering from asthma. Several athletes have the condition. One has to use inhalers following the right technique and for the specified duration,” he says.
Doctors also say that being aware of the environment one lives in is a must. They must see to that they live in a dust-free environment (even at home). Walls must be kept clean after a spell of rain. The condition can be kept at bay by cleaning AC filters and maintaining pet hygiene.
Ahead of World Asthma Day on May 2, a ‘Breathe Free Campaign’ has been launched to create awareness about the condition.
Dr R Narasimhan, Senior Pulmonologist, says that patients should consult their doctor and necessary tests should be taken to keep their lung healthy and fit. He explains that spirometry can be used to measure airflow. By measuring how much air you exhale, and how quickly you exhale, spirometry can evaluate a broad range of lung diseases. Spirometry measures how well the lungs exhale. Whereas pulmonary function tests are a broad range of tests that measure how well the lungs take in and exhale air and how efficiently they transfer oxygen into the blood. Lung volume measurement detects restrictive lung diseases.
Dr R Sridhar, Medical superintendent at Government Tambaram Sanatorium Hospital, Stanley Medical College further adds, “It is important to understand the need to know your lung number and why inhalation therapy is the most effective therapy to control asthma and breathlessness. Myths associated with the treatment needs to be busted. Inhaled corticosteroids have been recognised and widely accepted as the mainstay of asthma management.”
- Follow medications and doctors’ advice with respect to inhalers.
- Ensure a dust free environment and know your risk factor.
- Undergo tests as and when prescribed by doctors.
- Absence of symptoms doesn’t mean you should stop medication.