According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are close to 300 million people suffering from asthma across the world. World Asthma Day (3rd May) is organised by the Global Initiative on Asthma and raises awareness of the condition. This year’s theme is ‘You Can Control Your Asthma”.
Asthma is a common long-term condition that can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness. Sometimes, asthma can get worse gradually or suddenly, this is often called an ‘asthma attack’. Asthma can be controlled most of the time by drugs but sometimes people have attacks that require hospital treatment.
Asthma is caused by inflammation of small tubes called bronchi, which carry air to and from your lungs. People with asthma may have more sensitive bronchi than normal. When a person comes into contact with something that irritates their lungs, their airways become narrow and the muscles around them tighten. There are a number of common triggers for asthma including house dust mites, animal hair, exercise, viral infections, pollen and cigarette smoke.
There is no cure yet for asthma but there is medication which helps to relieve symptoms and prevent future attacks. Most people take the medication using an inhaler. Dr Dr. Helen Reddel, Clinical Associate Professor at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia said:
“It has become clear in recent years that asthma control really has two components. Symptom control is crucial to reduce the burden of asthma in patients’ daily lives.”
(Photo: Ben Dalton)