The number of people who have lost their lives due to asthma is the highest in primarily low and middle-income countries globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics.
According to the data by WHO, it is estimated that there are at least 339 million asthma patients in the world, and this number is expected to reach 400 million in 2025.
Although the incidence of asthma is different for each country, the world average is around 15%.
Even though asthma is more intense in developed countries such as the United States and Australia, most asthma-related deaths are found in low-and middle-income countries where treatment and access to drugs are more difficult.
In 2019, at least 461,000 people died due to this illness, while asthma-related deaths were most noted in low and middle-income countries such as Myanmar, Kiribati, Laos, Sri Lanka, New Guinea, Mali and Lesotho.
Triggers can worsen asthma symptoms
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that occurs due to inflammation and narrowing of the small airways in the lungs, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.
Asthma has symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing or whistling that occurs when breathing, a feeling of pressure in the chest, and coughing in recurrent episodes.
Breathing in substances and particles that may irritate the respiratory tract is a significant risk factor in the progression of asthma. Other common triggers can also worsen asthma symptoms.
They may change from person to person, although viral infections such as the common cold, dust, smoke, changes in weather conditions, grass and tree pollen, animal fur and feathers contain intensely scented soaps and fragrances.
World Asthma Day
World Asthma Day is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), founded in 1993 and in collaboration with WHO.
To raise awareness of asthma globally, World Asthma Day is celebrated every year in May.
It was celebrated on May 5 this year with the theme "Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions".
"The theme provides a call to action to address common widely held myths and misconceptions concerning asthma that prevent persons with asthma from enjoying optimal benefit from the major advances in the management of this condition," said GINA on its official website.
'Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions'
Firstly, "Asthma is a childhood disease; individuals will grow out of it as they age," is not true, noted GINA, added that "Asthma can occur at any age (in children, adolescents, adults and elderly)."
Secondly, it is not right to claim that asthma is infectious because it is not, GINA stressed.
"However, viral respiratory infections (such as common cold and the flu) can cause asthma attacks. Or In children, asthma is frequently associated with allergy, but asthma which starts adulthood is less often allergic."
Thirdly, GINA mentioned the myth that asthma patients should not exercise, underlining that "When asthma is well controlled, asthma subjects are able to exercise and even perform a top sport."
The last myth is that "Asthma is only controllable with high dose steroids," even though the truth is, "Asthma is most often controllable with low dose inhaled steroids," emphasized GINA.
Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to manage and control the disease to reduce and prevent asthma attacks, also called episodes or exacerbations.
As factors that make asthma control difficult, failure to use drugs with the proper technique and regularly, as well as exposure to special or general triggers such as allergens, infections, cigarette smoke and chemicals, can be shown.
In research, it is noted that patients use their medications as recommended by their doctor, quit smoking and obese patients lose weight, eat a healthy and balanced diet, exercise regularly, and keep the inhaled ambient air clean make it easier to control the disease.
Asthma and air pollution, dust, pet hair, moisture and mold, pollen, and chemicals such as allergens, cigarette smoke, various environmental factors, such as weather changes, as well as can be caused by obesity and genetic predisposition.
Emotional stimuli such as fear, anger, excitement, and cold weather and exercise are also among the factors that trigger the disease.
No higher risk of COVID-19
According to the results of research in the GINA report, systematic reviews show that the risk of COVID-19 does not increase significantly in people with asthma.
It is seen that asthma patients are not at higher risk of coronavirus-related deaths.
However, recently, it was observed that the risk of virus-related deaths has increased in people who needed oral corticosteroids for asthma.
For this reason, it is vital to maintain reasonable symptom control, reduce the risk of severe exacerbation, and continue good asthma treatment with strategies to minimize the need for oral corticosteroid medication.
*Writing by Merve Berker
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