World Asthma Day 2018: Awareness is the key

Busted: Myths associated with asthma

Don t sit next to a person suffering from asthma . Children of asthma patients or asthmatic as they are called will have asthma . Myths such as these affect lives of around 20 million people in India suffering from asthma by creating social barriers. "Asthma is a non-contagious inflammatory condition of lungs which causes attacks of breathlessness and wheezing in patients. Often detected in childhood, some can also contract asthma in adulthood mainly due to environmental conditions such as air pollution, while genetics play a partial role," says Dr Kailash Nath Gupta is a renowned Chest & Critical Care Specialist (ICU) and Interventional Pulmonologist.
False notions associated with asthma affects the lifestyles of the patients. People suffering from asthma are hesitating to take up physical activity for the fear that it would lead to frequent asthmatic attacks. On the contrary, physical exercises done under correct supervision can in fact, help in strengthening the lungs and improving overall health.
Read:How to manage asthma in children
"It is popularly believed that asthma can be cured by relocating to places with drier climatic conditions. While drier climates have lesser irritants in the air such as moisture causing lesser severity of the symptoms, it can only give symptomatic relief to asthma, which is usually a life-long condition," explains Dr Kailash Nath Gupta.
The mainstay of managing asthma is using inhalers. Yet the treatment regime themselves have myths attached to them. One such popular myth is side effects of the steroids used in the inhalers. While over usage of inhalers can cause side-effects, these can be avoided with careful medical supervision.
Read:Ayurveda for asthma- how it can help
Inhalers are designed to avoid over-dosage by delivering micrograms amount of steroids to the bloodstream which is tolerable for the lungs. The risk of side-effects can be further reduced by rinsing mouth after steroid spray to avoid residual deposits. Increased use of spacer tube can help by reducing contact with the oral cavity and delivering more to the airway directly.
The faulty notions affecting asthma springs from the lack of understanding of the disease and its causes. Improving public awareness can help busting these myths at multiple levels. Public information dissemination through social media, mass media, hoardings and advertisements can help in creating awareness among general public. A well informed public can demand for better air quality by controlling air pollution, which is at the root of asthma. "Patients can be given leaflets informing about the myths and facts about their condition. Better informed patients will be more willing to adhere to treatment regime. Training of high risk groups such as traffic police, truck drivers, industrial managers and workers can help in identifying early symptoms of asthma and diagnosing it early. Specially designed training for teachers and parents can help in identifying symptoms in small children who are highly vulnerable to asthma. Better informed communities and groups are more likely to accommodate members suffering from asthma and be more sensitive to their needs," says Dr Kailash Nath Gupta
Improving public awareness about asthma can thus, go a long way in improving the overall wellbeing of the people suffering from asthma.
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