Learning the proper way of using the inhaler for asthma patients is must as the device has been proved to be the most effective means to control the disease, a leading chest disease expert told.
“Inhaler is an effective way of treatment for asthma patients. Unfortunately, a majority of asthma patients don’t know the right use of it,” said Dr. Shamim Ahmed, an associate professor of Pulmonology Department, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
He said asthma is a chronic disease that causes recurring wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The asthma medicine inside an inhaler goes straight into the airways of a sufferer’s breathing system giving him or her relief.
“The obvious reason of coughing is coolness at night or early in the morning…but the exact cause for asthma is yet to be known,” he noted, adding in most cases the disease is mostly linked to hereditary and environmental factors including air pollution.
Dr. Shamim said the disease has genetic factors too and it travels from parents to children and thereafter. But there are some other causes, including respiratory infections, childhood viral infections, in particular, that may affect the lining of the airways making them more exposed to triggers causing asthma.
"Air pollution is the prime cause of asthma in cities. But close proximity to animals as well as the use of pesticides in agriculture and other biodegradable chemicals are also held responsible for asthma among the people," he added.
Dr. Shamim explained that existence of atopic diseases like allergic rhinitis, eczema, and allergic conjunctivitis were found to be significant risk factors responsible for the development of asthma in both rural and urban areas.
“But, the prevalence of asthma is more in urban areas than the rural sites,” he added.
Dr. Shamim said generally it is not a curable disease, but carefulness in everyday life can effectively control it in larger cases.
“However, the best treatment still remains the inhaled steroids, while long-term oral steroids could create serious side-effects like malfunctioning of adrenal glands,” he added.
He said it is not possible to avoid the contact of asthma triggers, but wearing safety masks regularly can diminish the chances of developing this disease. Since asthma is a chronic disease, he added, it should be managed at home, except the severe cases. If home management is done intelligently and skillfully, most asthmatic patients can lead a normal life.
Dr. Shamim also said avoidance of triggers is a key component of improving control and preventing asthma infection.
He mentioned that around 70-80 lakh people are suffering from asthma in the country and the number of patients is gradually increasing due to lack of knowledge about the disease and its management.
In this context, he underscored the need for creating mass awareness to check the growing number of asthma patients.
Dr. Shamim said the government and BSMMU together have been working relentlessly to control the disease through awareness programs for asthma patients. Like other countries, he said, Bangladesh also observes the World Asthma Day on the first Tuesday of May every year to keep people aware about Asthma.