World Asthma Day
Breath Easily; Live Freely!
While almost everyone is familiar with the appearance and sound of an asthma inhaler, only some are aware of the actual nature and cause of the condition and the fact that there are various types of asthma. World Asthma Day is an annual global healthcare event held on the first Tuesday of May to raise awareness of asthma globally. The 2nd of May (Tuesday) in 2023 is designated as World Asthma Day. Today, many worldwide and local organizations join together to tackle the world's leading non-communicable disease in children and adults. GINA (Global Initiative For Asthma) created World Asthma Day in partnership with the World Health Organisation.
World Asthma Day 2023 Theme
This year's World Asthma Day 2023 theme is "Asthma Care for All," which advocates for increased accessibility and availability of high-quality medical care to reduce the disproportionate number of deaths and hospitalizations caused by asthma in low and middle-income countries due to constrained access to asthma care.
Today, GINA seeks to expand and deepen its relationship with local and national policymakers. GINA also pledges to make specific recommendations for environmental sustainability by discussing concerns about global health with a focus on patient safety. GINA works to enhance the lives of people with asthma around the world, and multifaceted collaboration for improvement in all elements of asthma care for patients and the environment is essential.
Importance Of World Asthma Day
Asthma is the most common chronic disease in both children and adults worldwide. Asthma was identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other regulatory bodies as both a cause and an effect of poverty in low- and middle-income nations. According to the WHO, 26.2 crore people have asthma, with a mortality count (deaths) of 4.55 lakh globally in 2019. According to the Global Burden of Disease Report (GBDR) 2019, India has the world's highest and growing burden of asthma in terms of deaths and disability-adjusted life years, with over 3.4 crore people suffering from the disease, despite accounting for only 13% of the world's asthma population and 42% of global asthma death rates.
History Of World Asthma Day
The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) established World Asthma Day in 1998. The day was designed to raise awareness of asthma as a growing problem. It affects at least 14% of children worldwide and appears to be rising. Asthma was recognized as a serious public health concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2016. This day aims to enhance asthma care worldwide by educating people about the disease and advocating for better management and preventative techniques.
What Is Asthma?
A Fight For Breathable Air!
Most of you must have heard that asthma is an infectious lung disease that can be transmitted from person to person. While the fact is that asthma is a non-communicable inflammatory condition that affects the lungs. Asthma is a chronic lung condition that occurs due to inflammation of the airway that leads to constriction in bronchial tubes or airways. Besides the inflammation, there is also excessive mucus production and muscle stiffening around the bronchial tubes, leading to narrowing airways.
Ten Types Of Asthma
- Exercise-induced asthma: Not all types of physical activity aggravate asthma symptoms. For those prone to asthma attacks, strenuous exercises can worsen the condition leading to severe wheezing.
- Occupational asthma: For certain people subjected to chemicals (dyes & rubber) in textile, agricultural, metal, and manufacturing industries, the fumes can irritate their airways and cause asthma attacks.
- Nocturnal asthma: A type of asthma that occurs primarily at night and causes sleep disturbances.
- Allergic asthma occurs when asthmatics consume allergic foods or expose themselves to external triggers such as dust, mites, molds, etc.
- Nonallergic asthma happens when asthmatics are confronted with strong emotions such as stress, exposure to strong odors, etc. Such emotions can flare up asthma attacks.
- Intermittent asthma: This type of asthma attack occurs in those people who experience on-and-off asthma symptoms.
- Persistent asthma: For some people, asthma symptoms may endure for a chronic period. This type of asthma can be presented with mild or moderate to severe symptoms.
- Adult-onset asthma: Asthma symptoms that occur in the late teens.
- Childhood asthma: It has been named childhood asthma based on the onset that occurs in infants or toddlers.
- Asthma- COPD overlap syndrome: This occurs if an asthma attack occurs along with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that flares up the shortness of breath that worsens the wheezing.
Factors That Cause Asthma
- Hereditary: A family history of asthma is likely to contribute as a risk factor, and it is related to having a high risk of causing asthma.
- Obesity: In obese people, an excess amount of fat accumulated in the chest and abdomen region leads to difficulty in breathing due to strong constriction of the airways.
- External factors include passive smoking or exposure to pollution or chemical fumes that tend to irritate your bronchial pathways and elevate the risk of asthma. In addition, those of you with a history of RSV virus or respiratory syncytial viral infection are more likely to develop asthma.
Various triggers irritate the lining of the air passage resulting in inflammation or swelling, causing breathing difficulty.
- Emotional triggers: Anxiety or stress can flare up asthma symptoms.
- Indoor triggers: Specific household triggers involve cockroaches, mites, molds, pet animals that shed dander, exposure to cleaning agents/fumes that irritate your airway
- Outdoor triggers: Air pollution, carbon exhaust, seasonal flu, pollens, and grass can act as allergens and irritate your airways resulting in a wheeze.
- Lifestyle triggers such as alcohol, tobacco/cigarette smoking, and fatty foods can aggravate the inflammation and lead to asthma attacks.
- Medication triggers: Drugs that work by blocking the beta receptors in the bronchi (airway) or those that can stimulate inflammation, such as Beta-blockers, aspirin, and NSAIDs, can cause exacerbations and worsen asthma symptoms.
Watch your breathing breath; every breath matters!
Asthma can affect anyone, irrespective of age and gender. Consider having a skin prick test to avoid the triggers. Maintaining a healthy weight and following an active lifestyle is important to prevent asthma attacks. It is recommended that you discuss with your doctor about the type of asthma you have and know which treatment plan works best for you. On this world asthma day 2023, let's vow to end air pollution and provide our support to asthmatics by creating a healthy environment to breathe clean air.