Asthma, a condition in which a person’s airways become inflamed, narrow, and swell, and may produce extra mucus, is marked by breathing difficulties and incessant coughing. To raise awareness about the same and improve the lives of people with asthma, World Asthma Day is observed on the first Tuesday in May, every year.

This year, it is being observed with the theme ‘Closing Gaps in Asthma Care’ to highlight “the number of gaps in asthma care which require intervention in order to reduce preventable suffering as well as the costs incurred by treating uncontrolled asthma,” according to Global Initiative for Asthma, (GINA).

To prevent asthma, it’s crucial to understand some of the most common triggers of the disorder. “Asthma is a condition characterized by inflammation and narrowing of respiratory tubes, which results in cough, difficulty in breathing, chest tightness, wheeze. It is one of the causes of chronic cough,” Dr Suhas HS, consultant pulmonologist, Manipal Hospital, said.

According to the expert, the common triggers include tobacco smoke, dust, pollens, pets, mold, outdoor and air pollution, pest (cockroaches), disinfectant agents, food and food additives, exercise, infections, changes in weather, and medications.

masks Wear a mask to reduce the exposure to pollutants (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

“All these cause irritation of airway and inflammation which results in cough, breathlessness, chest tightness and wheeze,” he explained.

Prevention tips

Dr Suhas shares some essential tips you must keep in mind to prevent asthma.

*Avoid exposure to inciting agents
*Avoid exposure to smoke and pets
*Wear a mask to reduce exposure to pollutants
*Avoid strong perfumes
*Use vacuum cleaner at home
*Use mops at home
*Get rid of molds and pests at home

He stressed the importance of visiting a doctor to determine lung function “so that medications can be given adequately”. “Medications used are to reduce the inflammation and to open the airways,” he said.

While there’s a common belief that one may get addicted to medications, the expert disagrees. “Medications are used to control asthma to lead a good quality of life. In addition, vaccination with flu and pneumonia vaccines, further help in reducing the frequency of infections, thus, improving the quality of life.”

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