A professor of medicine, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Gregory Erhabor, who is also President, Asthma and Chest Care Foundation, said that asthma affects about 339 million people annually with over 500,000 hospitalizations and about 400,000 deaths across the globe and in Nigeria, an estimated 13 to 15 million people may be asthmatic, however, deaths from asthma are vastly preventable. By the year 2025, an estimated 400 million people will be affected. Asthma prevalence is grossly under-reported and under-treated
The professor said that the incidence of asthma had been rising progressively and developing nations are currently contributing significantly to the increasing global burden of the disease. Asthma is one of the leading chronic non-communicable respiratory diseases with global impact usually characterized by chronic airway inflammation with history of respiratory symptoms and cough.
Asthma is one of the commonest causes of presentation at emergency departments and is the third leading cause of preventable hospitalization and it places a substantial burden on individuals, caregivers and healthcare systems globally with increasing trends now being seen in developing countries..
The occasional sneezing, coughing and wheezing is something we all see in children as they are growing up. The worry starts when it gets frequent. That’s when you need to consult a specialist and check whether your child has any symptoms of allergy or Asthma.
ASTHMA CHOKES THE ENTIRE FAMILY
If your child is affected by Asthma, it affects the entire family as the parents have to keep a close watch on what the child eats, drinks and especially breathes in.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENS DURING AN ASTHMA ATTACK?
The professor noted that asthma symptoms usually occur at night with cough and breathlessness which disturbs patient’s sleep. They can also be worse early in the morning with the peak flow measurements being reduced. This is called the early morning dipping. The combination of these symptoms gives rise to what doctors call the diurnal pattern, he said.
An attack is triggered when the outflow of air from the lungs is restricted by an obstruction, which narrows or contracts the airways. This leads to muscle constriction and swelling of the lining along the airways of the lungs.
IS IT A CAUSE FOR CONCERN IN NIGERIA?
Yes, according to a report:
- Nigeria has an estimated 13-15 million asthmatics
- What’s more worrying? In Nigeria, Asthma affects roughly more than 15% to 22% of children between 5-12 years old
Plus, certain environmental and climatic factors in Nigeria like pollution and weather conditions can trigger asthma attacks.
Asthma is an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and information on the prevalence of asthma in Nigeria is inconsistent.
The prevalence of asthma and allergic rhinitis in Nigeria is high with variability across regions and age groups. The number of persons with clinical asthma in Nigeria (approximately 13 -15 million) is likely to rank among the highest in Africa.
SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT IT?
A few simple yet effective steps can go a long way in preventing Asthma for your kids. Here are quick and easy tips, which you can follow from today. In fact, right now.
DON’T LET THE DUST OR DUST MITES GATHER AT YOUR PLACE
Dust mites are microscopic bugs that feed on your skin particles. Very often their breeding ground is our bed, carpets, clothes and upholstery. Running a steam iron over these objects or even washing fabrics regularly can prevent them from spreading. They can trigger Asthma attacks at home.
KEEP THAT AIR AT HOME PURE
If you thought the outdoor air pollution is injurious to your health, think again. According to a report, air pollution indoors can be two to five times worse than outdoor air quality. Some of the common pollutants are pollen, harmful chemical fumes and carbon monoxide. These are all potential triggers for asthma attacks. If possible, buy an air purifier as it can help keep indoor air quality levels at your home.
PASSIVE SMOKING CAN LEAD TO ACTIVE ASTHMA ATTACKS
Smoking can be detrimental not just for you but your kids. Cigarette smoke and toxins are major Asthma triggers for kids. Stub the smoking habit at home or while the kids are around.
KEEP THOSE PETS AWAY
There’s no doubt that most kids love pets but it’s not a very good idea to get a pet home if your child has symptoms of allergies and asthma. According to a KidsHealth report, nearly 30% of asthmatic patients are allergic to animals. Do you think it’s the fur? No, actually it is their dead skin matter, saliva and urine that trigger asthma.
CHILD OBESITY INCREASE CHANCES OF ASTHMA
Health experts have found a direct link between child obesity and increased asthma attacks. One of the major reasons for this is the inflammation of the lungs due to increased body weight, which directly affects the airways and breathing patterns of the child. That’s why it is important to keep your child physically active, to help keep asthma in check. Also, be careful when it comes to your child’s diet as certain foods have been known to trigger asthma. These include peanuts, cow’s milk, soybean and seafood to name some.
Obese individuals have high levels of leptin, which causes impairment of lung function, increased Airway Hyper Responsiveness (AHR), including exercise-induced broncho-constriction and worsening of asthma symptoms. Obesity can cause or worsen Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and sleep apnea. These conditions lead to increased risk of developing asthma.
PUT THAT STRESS TO REST
Stress is perhaps the biggest asthma trigger. It causes hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to fluctuate, which affects our heartbeat and breathing patterns. An increased heartbeat speeds up your breathing, which can choke your airways. Therefore, make sure your child is stress-free especially during exams.
Asthma control is the extent to which the effects of asthma can be seen in the patient, or have been reduced or removed by treatment. A person is said to be controlled if there is no day-time symptoms, no limitation of activity, no nocturnal symptoms, no need for rescue medication, normal lung function and no exacerbation.
Management of asthma requires partnership between the individual (the patient) with asthma and the doctor.
The patient needs to be educated on how to discover his/her triggers and how to avoid them, components of the asthma, how to use the medications, inhaler techniques, and the self-management plan.
Asthma has been found to be best controlled when asthmatics know their asthma and can be part of its management, a process known as self-management plan.
Self-management plan is a way in which you can tie your symptoms to your peak expiatory flow readings and know what to do when the reading is normal or reduced.