President of Allergy and Asthma Association Prof. Dr. Ahmet Akçay talked about the misconceptions about asthma and what should be known about asthma for the World Asthma Day event.
Asthma is a disease in which there is an excessive sensitivity as a result of damage to the airways of the lungs, which we call inflammation due to allergen and environmental factors in our environment, and this sensitivity causes symptoms such as recurrent cough, shortness of breath, and growling. The prevalence of asthma in children is around 10% worldwide.
Causes of increased frequency of asthma
The incidence of allergic diseases has increased considerably today. This increase has reached epidemic proportions. Asthma is also an allergic disease and its frequency is increasing day by day. Many factors such as genetic predisposition, lifestyle changes for urbanization and modernization, air pollution, increased use of diesel vehicles, exposure to cigarette smoke, westernized diet, obesity, increase in cesarean delivery rates, and an increase in early antibiotic use rates play an important role as the reasons for this increase.
The effect of cleaning materials on asthma development
In studies conducted, cleaning materials are often blamed for the development of asthma. Chlorine in cleaning materials turns into harmful gases when it comes into contact with water and can cause damage to lungs, nose and skin with long-term exposure. There are studies showing that it causes asthma, chronic bronchitis, allergic rhinitis and dermatitis by causing damage to the lung airways. Therefore, in the selection of cleaning materials, it is very important to choose new generation cleaning materials that do not have odor or have very little, volatile organic compounds level and total organic carbon level, and do not harm the skin. It is important to provide such properties in bleach, surface cleaners, detergent and dishwashing products to prevent the development of asthma in the future.
Asthma is an important health problem
The World Health Organization has recognized that asthma is a very important public health problem. According to WHO, it is estimated that 339 million people worldwide have asthma, and in 2016, there were 417.918 asthma-related deaths in the world. It is estimated that around two thousand deaths due to asthma occur annually in Turkey.
What are the symptoms of asthma attack and asthma?
Among the common symptoms of asthma; cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing. These symptoms can vary from person to person. Symptoms can sometimes become severe and worse; This situation causes an asthma attack.
The main symptoms seen in asthma are:
- Frequent cough and especially at night, cough that takes you from sleep,
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Hearing a wheezing sound in the lungs,
- Every flu descends into the lungs and symptoms of wheezing cough after flu,
- Coughing after playing games, wheezing in the lungs,
- Exercising, shortness of breath after exercise, wheezing in the lungs, coughing,
- Cough due to flu that lasts longer than 2 weeks,
- Signs of getting pneumonia twice or more can be signs of allergic asthma.
A person with an asthma disease that suddenly develops shortness of breath is called an asthma attack. It can be a terrifying experience. The feeling of tightness in the chest and narrowing of the lungs causes a challenging process. You feel like "drowning in the air," as one patient said.
The cause of an asthma attack is inflammation and obstruction of the bronchial tubes that allow inhaled air to enter and exit the lungs. During a crisis, the muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes contract, narrowing the airways and making breathing very difficult. Other common symptoms are wheezing and a tightening sound in the chest.
The duration of the attack can vary depending on what caused it and how long the airways were inflamed. Mild attacks may last only a few minutes; more severe ones can last from hours to days.
Asthma attacks can be fatal, but largely preventable and preventable. If the treatment of asthma is early and correct and regularly controlled, it is possible to prevent an asthma attack.
What causes asthma-related deaths and can they be prevented?
The majority of deaths are preventable and result from the inadequacy of long-term medical treatment and the delay in the treatment of asthma and asthma attacks. In many parts of the world, asthmatic patients have difficulty in accessing asthma medications and health centers. In countries where no control drugs are available, mortality rates are high. With the advances in asthma treatment, death rates from asthma have decreased in many developed countries. Although asthma cannot be cured completely, it is possible to reduce and prevent asthma attacks or exacerbations with treatment.
Myths about asthma
The theme of this year's World Asthma Day is "to reveal misconceptions about asthma". This theme is a call to identify common rumors and misconceptions about asthma that prevent asthmatic patients from enjoying the advances in the treatment of this disease with peace of mind.
Common misconceptions about asthma include:
- Asthma is a childhood illness; disappears over time.
- Asthma is a contagious infection.
- Asthmatics should not exercise.
- Asthma can only be controlled with high doses of cortisone.
- Asthma medications can be discontinued during periods when they feel better
Asthma can occur at any age. Asthma can occur in children, adolescents, adults and the elderly. It is not true that asthma will disappear on its own over time.
Asthma is not a contagious infection. However, viral respiratory infections (e.g. cold and flu) can cause asthma attacks. Asthma in children is usually associated with allergies, but adult onset asthma is less allergic.
If the disease is well controlled, asthmatics can exercise and even play heavy sports. There are many athletes with asthma. Sport prevents asthma from getting worse by preventing obesity in asthmatics. Therefore, it is not true that asthmatics cannot exercise.
Asthma can usually be controlled with low-dose inhaled steroids. It is not true that asthma is treated with only high doses of cortisone. Asthma can be kept under control with low dose cortisone.
It is not right to stop taking asthma medications on our own when it is felt better. Because the healing drugs should be used for a long time and should be discontinued when the doctor deems appropriate.
In conclusion, if we summarize
- The frequency of asthma continues to increase day by day. The reason for this increase is the environmental factors brought about by modernization.
- Asthma can occur at any age from childhood to old age and can affect anyone.
- Asthma is not a contagious infection.
- If the disease is well controlled, asthmatics can exercise and even do heavy sports.
- It is wrong to think that asthma can only be treated with high doses of cortisone.
- It is not right to stop taking asthma medications on our own when it is felt better.
- Deaths due to asthma can be prevented with appropriate treatment.
- Correct treatment and regular control are extremely important in asthma.