India has an estimated 15-20 million asthmatics and doctors here feel that awareness and early diagnosis play a vital role in containing this chronic respiratory disease that has been surging fast in the last decade.
According to World Health Organisation estimates, between 100-150 million people worldwide suffer from asthma of which 15-20 million belong to India.
As per a WHO report on World Asthma Day today, the fundamental cause of asthma, that is characterised by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing is not completely understood, but the strongest risk factors for developing asthma include indoor allergens like dust mites in bedding and carpets.
Outdoor allergens that may cause asthma include pollens, tobacco smoke and chemical irritants, it said.
Dr Prahlad Prabhudesai, Chest specialist at Lilavati Hospital here cautioned that there may be some people who do not show qualities like breathlessness but may still be suffering from ‘silent Asthma’, which cannot be prevented as it is a hereditary disorder.
“There is no medicine available to prevent asthma. Only the attacks can be prevented. There are some patients who do not show any qualities of being an asthmatic. People who frequently sneeze or periodically cough may also be asthmatic. They need to get a diagnosis done at the earliest,” he said.
Speaking to PTI, Dr. Vyanketesh Joshi, Chief Trustee of Siddh Dhyan Foundation said that one can have a better chance of controlling asthma if diagnosed early.
“Asthma cannot be cured but it can be controlled. People suffering from asthma can learn to identify and avoid the things that trigger an episode and educate themselves about medication. With proper treatment, people with asthma can have fewer and less severe attacks,” Dr Joshi said.
World Asthma Day is celebrated round the world on the first Tuesday of May. It was first celebrated by Global Initiative For Asthma (GINA) in 1998 after its first ‘World Asthma Meeting’ in 1998. The Day is celebrated in order to raise awareness among public worldwide about the precaution and prevention of this bronchial condition.
The theme of this year concentrates on cause and effects of asthma: ‘You Can Control Your Asthma’.
“We know prolonged use of corticosteroids in the treatment of asthma is a risk factor of osteoporosis, but we have not had definite data showing the relationship between asthma itself and bone loss,” explained Jae-Woo Jung of Seoul National University Medical Research Centre in South Korea.
“This study has shown a meaningful association between the two conditions even in the absence of previous oral corticosteroid use,” Jung added.
For the study, researchers examined more than 7,000 patients, 433 of which had airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR) or asthma.
Lumber spine and femur bone density was significantly lower in those with AHR or asthma, than those without the conditions, showed the findings of the research.
“Reasons can include corticosteroid use, low levels of vitamin D or even race,” said John Oppenheimer, an associate editor of the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology that published the study.