Bill Clinton, J.F Kennedy, most of winter Olympic athletes – owing to cold atmosphere and even ‘Rawalpindi Express’ – Shohaib Akhtar, all had/has asthma. Asthma doesn’t mean that one can’t perform tedious and or challenging tasks like anybody else. To prove their point they brought out Sunandan Chakroborty – a continued asthmatic for seven and half years since age 5 and one who now leads ‘a very normal life’
Two classmates, city doctors – Dr. Subhasis Roy and Dr. Pawan Agarwal, came together on World Asthma Day to refute misconceptions circulating on asthma. Inflicted with asthma doesn’t mean an individual will forever be ill and given to perpetual sneezing or a wheezing, Though once affected, it may not be cured but it can very well be controlled and suppressed with proper medicine-control.
In matters of cure, both docs stressed on inhalation therapy, being most effective. It was also mentioned that just because one doesn’t exhibit asthma symptoms means that one is free of it. About 80% of asthma is genetic in make-up.
Basically asthma, a chronic disease which affects between 100 and 150 million people around the globe and in India , between 15-20 million and growing, is inflammation of the airway, which is hyper-sensitive to various allergens and environmental triggers and thus effectively becoming narrow to cause breath-hindrance. Severe cases create swelling which is known as re-modeling in medical terms.
As always prevention is the word – be wary of environmental tobacco, pollen, dust mites (carpet), indoor dust, house-fungus (a/c-filter water mould), ozone-group irritants, and animals (mixed opinion) and above all don’t succumb to emotional stress, a major cause of symptom escalation.
When it comes to remedy, Inhaled corticosteroid therapy (ICT) is the way to go. Inhalers come in two types – relievers and controllers. This steroid is not anabolic – doesn’t mix in blood – neither builds muscle mass, and unlike oral or intra-venous steroid doesn’t affect skin and bones, thus not registering any side-effects. It’s not harmful to inter-uterine fetus either. In fact they opined that inhalation therapy instead of being a last resort must be the first step itself.
The downside apart from its incurability is it requires long-term treatment. Dr. Roy says, “Many patients once they feel better stop taking their inhalers. This can be dangerous since discontinuing treatment means stopping the corrective measure that is keeping them fit and healthy.”
Commenting on the current scenario of asthma, Dr.Pawan Agarwal states,” Every day I consult 10 -15 patients that requires consultation not only for disease but for continuing the medicine. It has been found that adherence to asthma medication regime is very poor and tends to falter after few months in both children and adults and the rate of non-adherence has been estimated to be around 70%.
He further added “The treatment is available in India at a price as low as Rs.4 to Rs.6 per day which means that a year’s supply of medicine is less than the cost of 1 night’s stay at the hospital.”