Fact Sheet: World Asthma Day

WHAT IS ASTHMA?

Asthma is a common and potentially serious chronic disease. It causes the narrowing and inflammation of the airways, making it hard for sufferers to breathe.

Fact Sheet: World Asthma Day

Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and a cough that can vary over time in occurrence, frequency, and intensity. Recurrent asthma symptoms frequently cause sleeplessness, daytime fatigue, reduced activity levels, and school and work absenteeism.

Fortunately, asthma can be effectively treated and most sufferers can achieve good control of their asthma. However, failure to recognize and avoid triggers may result in an asthma attack, unplanned doctor/hospital visit and even death.

WHAT IS AN ASTHMA ATTACK?
During an asthma attack, the lining of the bronchial tubes swell, causing the airways to narrow and reducing the flow of air into and out of the lungs.

HOW MANY PEOPLE SUFFER FROM IT?
• 20% of the world population suffers from allergic disease such as allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis.

• 300 million patients have asthma, and this is expected to increase to 400 million by 2025.

• In more than 50% of adults and 80% of children, their asthma is allergic.

• Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children.

• Patients with asthma reported 14.2 million visits to a doctor’s office and 1.3 million visits to hospital outpatient departments.

WHAT CAN TRIGGER ASTHMA SYMPTOMS?
Although the fundamental causes of asthma are not completely understood, there are several, inhaled risk factors that can lead to the development of asthma and may trigger its symptoms.

These include:

• PM 2.5 — These are microscopic air pollutants, with size below 2.5 micrometers, and long-term exposure to them can trigger pulmonary oxidative stress and inflammation. This damage is associated with the primary development of asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). People with heart or lung disease (asthma and COPD) are under increased risk because these particles can aggravate the disease process.

• Bacteria and Viruses — Inhalation of viruses or bacteria can cause influenza, the common cold, tuberculosis, and other infections and increase the risk at asthma or COPD symptoms.

• Allergens. These include — Mold Spores: these can produce irritants and potentially toxic substances, which when inhaled by sensitive people, may trigger allergic reactions or asthma symptoms; Pet dander: contain allergens that can cause allergic reactions or trigger asthmatic attacks; Dust mites: the waste they produce is a potent trigger for asthma.

• Dry Air. Around 60% of the human body is water. Indoor dry air draws water out of skin and hair cells, causing itchy skin, chapped lips, brittle hair and red eye. It can aggravate allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions, and ruin a good night’s sleep.

WHAT YOU CAN DO IF YOU HAVE ASTHMA? 
• Medication. There are two types of asthma medication: long-term control medications which are preventive, taken daily to achieve and maintain control of asthma symptoms; and, quick-relief medications which are used to treat asthma attacks. They relieve symptoms rapidly and are taken on an as-needed basis

• Avoiding asthma triggers. Reducing contact with the triggers of asthma can help to reduce the severity of its symptoms. This can be done by:

– Keeping a diary of your symptoms. This will help you and your health care professional to get a clear idea of what may be triggering your asthma.

Using an air purifier to reduce allergens and control their levels. Philips air purifiers, for example, feature VitaShield IPS, which are effective against PM 2.5, bacteria, viruses and allergens, removing particles as small as 20 nanometers.

– Managing your stress can help keep your asthma under control. Find an approach that works for you, such as relaxation, exercise etc.

– Keeping pets out of the bedroom and off furniture. If possible, pets should be bathed frequently.

– Keeping the humidity in the air in your home between 30% and 50% can help asthma symptoms. To do this one can use humidifiers like those by Philips.

For more information on asthma or the triggers that may affect it, speak to a health care professional.

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