Uncovering The Asthma Misconceptions In Unpredicted Times Well Informed Citizens Can Help Create Betterawareness

Anando Sangbad: Inthese unprecedented times, the burden of lung diseases has increased manifold. Aswe get hit by the second wave, citizens are also getting hit by a great deal ofmisinformation around lung health. This is especially true for asthma whereinthere are a lot of misconceptions. This World Asthma Day let us dispel mythsand fears regarding asthma and encourage those affected by this condition tolive a healthy life.   The GlobalBurden of Disease Report: “In India, around 93 Million people suffer fromchronic respiratory diseases; out of this, around 37 million are Asthmatics.India contributes to only 11.1% of the global asthma burden, however, itaccounts for over 42% of all global asthma deaths making it the asthma capitalof the world”. Talking about Asthma, Dr. Asok Sengupta, ConsultantPulmonologist, Apollo Hospital, explained “Asthma is a chronic respiratory disorder of the lungs in which there isinflammation (swelling) of the airways in the lungs. Due to this inflammation,the airways are narrowed, and the lungs become vulnerable to various allergenswhich act as triggers for an asthma attack. Dust, cold, pollen, furry pets,viruses air pollutants, and even emotional agitation act as triggers for anasthma attack. These attacks can be prevented via inhalation therapy whichrequires long term medication. The misconceptions that these medications areaddictive is wrong and we need to counter them with right awareness on asthma.” Although asthma is notcurable, it is possible to gain control over it and lead a normal active life. Herethe correct treatment and adherence to asthma management is crucial. GINAguidelines recommend inhalation therapy as the best and safest way to controlasthma as it reaches your lungs directly and starts acting immediately.  Highlighting the importance of inhalers, Dr. AsokSengupta, Consultant Pulmonologist, Apollo Hospital, points out that“Due to its chronic nature, asthmarequires long term treatment and inhalers play a predominant part in leading a healthylife with asthma. Many patients frequently underutilise their medications oruse their inhalers incorrectly, which at times cause them to discontinuetreatment means stopping the very thing that is keeping the patient fit andhealthy. Patients should always consult theirdoctor on asthma management and the use of inhalers. It should not be stoppedwithout consultation.”  Doctors list down the myths they encounter in theirday to day practice and emphasise that this World Asthma Day we need to togetheruncover the misconception around asthma and inhalers.  Myth #1: Everyone with asthmaexperiences the same symptomsFact-Check: Asthmasymptoms vary from person to person and it is important to watch them carefullyfor a correct diagnosis by the doctor.Myth#2: Children outgrow theirasthma Fact-check: Asthmasymptoms may improve with age, but it’s a lifelong condition. As a chroniccondition, there is no cure for asthma and symptoms can resurface at anytime. Myth #3: Asthma can’t be fatalFact-Check:Lack of adherence can lead to worsening of the situation. Stopping yourinhalers without consulting doctors can be dangerous. Myth#4: Asthma is contagiousFact-Check: Asthmacan be caused by both hereditary and environmental factors. It is notcontagious.Myth#5: Asthma is old agedisease Fact-Check: Asthmacan affect people of any ageMyth#6: It’s not safe for people withasthma to exerciseFact-check: Asthmais no reason to lead an inactive life. Many doctors encourage patients to beactive. Many sports personalities have asthma and still lead an active life.Myth#7: Inhalers are addictiveFact-check: Inhalersare NOT addictive, and they have been recognized and widely accepted as themainstay of asthma management. Myth#8: No symptoms mean no asthmaFact-Check: symptom-freeis NOT asthma free! Discontinuation of the medication may result in aggravationof the disease and chances are that symptoms may flare up anytime.  While encouraging an increased dialogue on themanagement of asthma, lets us mark World Asthma Day todirectly resonate with an endeavour of not just enabling asthmatics withcorrect information, but by educating general public to create a support systemfor asthmatics.  Ongoing education is ofparamount importance in chronic diseases like asthma. It is always advisable toconsult a doctor.

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