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Asthma is a disease in which the airways narrow, swell and produce extra mucus. This makes breathing difficult and triggers coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. The World Health Organization estimates that 235 million people suffer from asthma all over the world and Over 80% of asthma deaths occurs in low and lower-middle income countries. On the other hand, the Nigeria Thoracic society (NTS)  in 2017 raised alarm on the increasing rate of people suffering from Asthma, saying over 15 million Nigerians are living with the disease.

In some cases, symptoms start up or get worse compared to usual and won’t go stop unless medication is administered; this is referred to “Asthma Flare Up”. A severe flare-up needs urgent treatment by a doctor or hospital emergency department.

CAUSES

The signs and symptoms of asthma often manifest when an individual is exposed to various irritants and substances known as allergenes. These triggers vary from one individual to the other. Some examples of triggers include:

  1. Physical activity
  2. Emotional stress
  3. Respiratory Tract Infections
  4. Smoke
  5. Some food additives
  6. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – a condition in which stomach acids back up into your throat

RISK FACTORS 

Factors that are thought to increase the chances of asthma attacks include:

  1. Family history of asthma.
  2. People with other allergic conditions such as allergic rhinitis are
  3. Obesity
  4. Smoking
  5. Exposure to exhaust fumes

SYMPTOMS

Asthma symptoms can vary widely over time.In some cases there are few or no symptoms and at other times there are severe and frequent symptoms. Symptoms often vary from person to person and often occur at night, early in the morning or during/just after an activity. Common symptoms often seen include:

  1. Breathlessness
  2. Coughing or Wheezing that are worsened by a cold or  flu
  3. Tight feeling in the chest
  4. Continuing cough

MANAGEMENT

The National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states that inadequate attention given to the management of asthma and ways of improving treatment could be a significant factor for the increased morbidity and mortality from asthma despite major advances in our understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease. Asthma is a chronic disease and its treatment goes on for a very long time. While some persons stay on the treatment for a while, other persons stay on the treatment for the rest of their lives.

Asthma patients should:

  • Equip yourself with information and advice from your healthcare provider
  • Become aware of your asthma triggers and do what you can to avoid them.
  • Keep to all schedule with your health-care provider.
  • Report any changes or worsening of your symptoms promptly.
  • Report any side effects you are having with your medications.

Source: World Health Organisation, NCBI, Mayo Clinic, National Asthma Council Australia

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