World Asthma Day highlights plight of over 3 million sufferers
People with allergies have a greater chance of developing asthma
ASTHMA affects one in ten children and one in 20 adults, and is one of the most common respiratory complaints in the world today.
Marking World Asthma Day yesterday, the World Asthma Foundation says over three million suffer from asthma worldwide and over 250 000 die annually from asthma worldwide.
National Asthma Education Programme (NAEP) chairperson Omolemo Kitchin said the theme of World Asthma Day 2017 is “Asthma: Better Air, Better Breathing”.
This year, NAEP is focusing on asthma and allergies.
“Avoiding risk factors that cause asthma symptoms is an important strategy for improving control.
“However, in many areas in South Africa, people with asthma may be exposed to conditions, such as outdoor or indoor asthma triggers.”
People who have allergies, especially allergic rhinitis (hay-fever/sinus), eczema and severe food allergies, have a greater chance of developing asthma. Asthma and allergies often go hand-in-hand. There are several types of asthma, but allergic asthma is a type that is triggered by an allergy eg. pollen. “People must avoid all things known to trigger their asthma.
“This may differ from person to person. Viral infections are the most common precipitants of acute asthmatic attacks in allergic people.”
Non-allergic triggers such as cigarette smoke and preservatives such as sulphur dioxide are also common triggers.
“People with asthma should also know what they are allergic to. The common allergens include house-dust mites, dogs or cats, grasses and cockroaches.
“A rarer trigger in very young children may be certain foods such as cow’s milk.”
In addition to avoidance procedures, there are very effective medicines to treat asthma. In the vast majority of cases, people who have asthma are able to lead a normal, active and happy life with full involvement in sport and all other activities, he added.
Peter Russell of Cipla SA said incorrect use of inhalers and non-adherence to treatment are two major contributors to poor levels of asthma control in South Africa.
“This is an issue that has to be addressed with urgency and more scrutiny.
“All asthma sufferers should be in a position where they have access to the most appropriate inhalers for their specific needs and be able to use these inhalers optimally, as this is vital in fighting asthma in South Africa.”