It's like breathing through a straw; that’s how many people with asthma describe what asthma feels like. But it doesn’t have to be that way for most people with asthma! Our understanding of asthma and its treatment has significantly improved in the last decade, with a wealth of new knowledge available that wasn't present before. Based on what we now know, most people with asthma should be able to gain control of it — and keep it under control for a lifetime.
Asthma is a lung disease. It is a physical and medical problem that needs treatment. It is not something that you imagined or made up. It’s in your lungs, and it’s real! Asthma is a highly prevalent disease in India. Despite its prevalence, asthma is often misunderstood as severe asthma, affecting up to 10% of those with asthma. The rest of the patients can be easily managed with minimal interventions. Asthma is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, and it persists over time without disappearing completely.
Asthma tends to be a long-term condition that persists throughout a person's lifetime. Even during periods of asymptomatic relief, the underlying asthma remains present and can unexpectedly become symptomatic again. Asthma symptoms result from ongoing inflammation (swelling), making airways (lungs) super sensitive and narrower than normal. Although inflammation is a helpful defense mechanism for our bodies, it can be harmful if it occurs at the wrong time or stays around after it’s no longer needed. That is what happens when you have asthma.
Remember, nearly everyone who has asthma can get and keep it under control. Regularly consulting with your doctor or healthcare professional to manage your asthma is crucial to meeting your objectives. It is important to have scheduled "asthma check-ups" with your doctor to keep your asthma in check. Learn which medicines to take, when, and how to use them correctly. Ask your doctor which inhaler is best for you or ask for an alternative inhaler if you are struggling with the current one. Then take all your medicines just as your doctor recommends. Once your asthma is controlled, you can sleep through the night, hike, or play a soccer game. In other words, you should be able to live an everyday, active life! With good asthma control, you can be free from all asthma symptoms. Individuals with well-managed asthma can have similar athletic abilities to those without asthma.
However, if experiencing asthma symptoms, it is essential to rest and avoid overexertion. Very few individuals with asthma may experience worsening symptoms during exercise, a condition called exercise-induced asthma.
Nevertheless, these patients are also encouraged to maintain an active lifestyle. Physical activities involving brief, intermittent exertion periods, such as volleyball, yoga, cricket, walking, and wrestling, are generally well tolerated by individuals with exercise-induced asthma. Try to identify the things that bring on your asthma symptoms, also called asthma triggers. Usual asthma triggers in the workplace and house are mould, airborne dust, gases, fumes, vapours, second-hand smoke, cleaning chemicals, scented personal care products, pests (dust mites, cockroaches, mice) and stress. If you can identify allergens for you, try to avoid them or at least reduce your contact with them.
Encourage your close contact to establish a tobacco-free policy, and if you smoke, the best way to protect your lungs is to plan to quit. Asthmatic individuals should wear a face mask outdoors, especially in poor air quality. Face mask can help reduce the spread of respiratory infections like COVID-19 and the flu and may also stop allergens and air pollutants from getting into your nose, throat, and lungs. The effectiveness of a mask in preventing pollution depends on its quality.
In summary, having asthma does not necessarily mean an individual will consistently experience symptoms. Proper management makes it possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle without limitations in work or other activities.
(Written by Dr Pradeep Bajad, Consultant & Assistant Professor, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad)
[Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, and views of ABP News Network Pvt Ltd.]
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