Asthma is a condition that affects the airways of the lungs, especially the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. “Asthma makes airways extremely sensitive to irritants like tobacco smoke, pollen, molds, animal dander, or dust mites,”explains Dr HemantKalra, a senior pulmonologist at MGS Hospital.
In asthma, the muscles around the airways tighten and become narrow. Other reasons for blockage in the airways could be inflammation or accumulation of sticky mucus (phlegm). The condition is marked by breathing difficulty and a wheezing sound. “It is important for asthmatics to avoid exposure to such triggers,” cautions Dr Kalra from MGS Hospital.
So if you or someone in the family has asthma,the first thing to keep in mind is: Do Not Panic. You are not alone. According to a report presented by the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 300 million individuals across the globe suffer from asthma. About 30 million of the total asthma cases are from India. Not to miss, asthma is also the most common chronic disease among children.
Having said that, it cannot be denied that this respiratory disease also has a lot of stigma attached to it.Many myths and old wives’ tales surround asthma. People often believe that it is nearly impossible to lead a normal, active life if suffering from asthma.While some consider asthma to be contagious, others feel that it is a psychological disorder that is just in the mind.
Dr Hemant Kalra from MGS Hospital addresses debunks the misconceptions associated with asthma.
Myth #1: Inhalers are habit-forming
Fact: No, inhalers used for asthma are not addictive. Taking your inhaler medicine regularly is just like brushing your teeth daily, or taking a bath every day. Use of inhalers in asthma will help you achieve good control over asthma.
Myth #2:People with asthma must avoid physical activity
Fact: Regular physical activity keeps the lungs resilient. It also helps in maintaining a healthy body weight, reduces the risk of asthma, and makes it easier for you to breathe. It is advisable to consult an experienced asthma specialist for an effective exercise program.
Myth #3: Asthma gets better as the patient ages
Fact: Asthma is a lifelong respiratory disease. Once asthma is diagnosed, you must know that the tendency for airway inflammation will always remain. However, the symptoms may fluctuate as you age. It may become intermittent or completely disappear for few years, until triggered by an environmental issue or illness.
Myth #5: Using asthma inhalers during pregnancy is not safe
It is absolutely safe for pregnant women to use an asthma inhaler. In fact, the use of inhalers during pregnancy is important as it improves the chances of delivering a healthy baby. And because of the fact that the dose of medicine is 40 times lesser through inhalation than tablets, the use of inhalers are considered safe for pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers.
Myth #5: Nobody dies of asthma
Fact: Asthma can be fatal, if not controlled in time. Failure to diagnose asthma, followed by absence of right treatment can lead to death. Also, inaccessibility to an asthma reliever during an attack may also increase the risk of death. It is important to know that death from asthma can be prevented. All you have to do is identify the symptoms and reach out for medical help before it gets too late. For instance, if you require more than ten puffs from the inhaler in a day, or frequent trips to the hospital for nebulisations, it is time you consult a specialist and manage your asthma more seriously.