In the world, almost 340 million people live with asthma. The respiratory disease it is not communicable and is more common in children and adults. Due to the fact that it mainly involves the most active population of society, it is estimated that it generates school absenteeism in approximately 60% of asthmatic children and causes an average loss of labor productivity of 35%.
The situation has improved in the last two decades, but there is still much to be done. From the Argentine Association of Respiratory Medicine (AAMR) estimate that 1 in 3 patients still cannot adequately control their asthma, because they continue to have symptoms or experience attacks.
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living with asthma
“This is one chronic illness which causes inflammation and narrowing of the tubes that carry air to the lungs (the bronchi). The most common symptoms are shortness of breath, a feeling of tightness in the chest, coughing and wheezing; they can manifest several times a day or a week, and in some cases they worsen during physical activity or at night”, explained Dr. Walter Mattarucco (MN 80.161), pulmonologist, Coordinator of the Section of Obstructive Diseases of the AAMR.
The goal of treatment is for the person to feel well, without symptoms, without limitations in their daily activities, and to achieve the same quality of life as someone without asthma. However, a significant group of patients do not achieve the best possible control of their disease.
causes of asthma
The cause of asthma is not known, but the mechanisms of this inflammation they are quite clear. Thanks to multiple studies of large populations, it is now known that -in addition to genetic predisposition- many factors in daily life and, above all, in childhood generate a greater propensity and contribute to lack of control.
Especially in the first three years of life, household exposure to allergens, smoke (cigarette and/or wood), environmental pollution and viral infections can contribute to the subsequent development of asthma. Many of them they are avoidable and, in general, they affect populations with low socioeconomic resources to a greater extent.
Another important finding is that many young people who had asthma at an early age can reach adulthood with decreased breathing capacity, even without noticing it.
In this context, in 2022 the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) proposes to “close the gap in asthma”, that is, reach the equality and fairness in the following aspects that the Argentine Association of Respiratory Medicine wants to echo:
- Provide access to diagnosis and treatment of the different socioeconomic, ethnic and age groups, both in developed countries and those with various deficiencies.
- get the interaction among all levels of health care (primary-secondary-tertiary), covering all severities.
- Provide educational-informative material to patients with asthma (“information is power”) so that they become decision makers in their treatment.
- Education of health personnel to give importance to the pathology, as to others, especially in relation to adherence, use of inhalers, detection of exacerbations. This last point is important because there is, in the general population and also in some health workers, the concept that asthma is only a chronic disease.
“Throughout the world there are differences in information, diagnosis and treatment of asthma. Therefore, we encourage the participation of patients as relevant decision makers in the management of their pathology and the dissemination of their experiences as a way to contribute to narrowing the gaps in asthma”, they concluded from the AAMR.