Seven out of 100 people afflicted by asthma use inhalation therapy to treat and control it. While this is now scientifically believed to be a correct treatment for the disease, most patients insist on taking medication which is now the second line of treatment.
Asthma leads to inflammation and narrowing of the airways, and to bring immediate relief and avoid complications inhalation therapy is being insisted upon. In addition, preventive measures like identifying allergens and avoiding them is also advised, says Dr Ramana Yadav, consultant pulmonologist and sleep specialist at Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS). He throws some more light on asthma and its treatment.
Q Why must patients opt for inhalation therapy? What is the right treatment for asthma?
The best treatment for asthma is through inhalation because the inhaler will go directly to where the problem is happening. There are less side effects and less medication in inhalation therapy. The inhalation dosage will always be less than medication which includes tablets and syrups. The side effects of inhalation therapy are also very less. This is the reason for doctors to choose inhalation therapy over oral medication.
Q How does the inhalation therapy help in giving relief to the patients?
Inhalation therapy directly acts on the airways which are already under bronco spasm, so there will be immediate relief due to quick action. When medicines are given they have to get digested and then affect the airways, which is time-consuming. Inhalation acts fast and gives immediate relief and keeps asthma under control.
Q Why is it important to keep the pump handy for the asthmatics?
Keeping the pump handy is important because when people come in contact with allergens and have an allergic reaction many of them are found to go into an emergency situation. When they have the inhalers, the use of medication is immediate and other treatment and care can be provided later.
QWhy is medication the second option for treatment in asthma patients?
Asthma is related to allergy which comes from pollen, food items and other environmental factors. Identifying allergens and avoiding them is the preventive measure. But there are times when the contact with the allergen is sudden and symptoms develop which requires the right form of treatment. Effective treatment of asthma is being insisted upon.
QWhy is it important for people suffering from asthma to understand that apart from medicines and therapy, food, diet and also lifestyle changes will go a long way in managing the disease? What is the compliance level amongst Indians?
These are important factors that play a huge part in preventing the disease. We have found that people who get asthma think that it is a permanent disease. But they fail to understand that it is a disease which can be controlled and also prevented once the allergens are identified. The main task is to identify the allergens and avoid them. Lifestyle changes for these people would be avoiding highly polluted areas, staying away from construction sites and monitoring dust exposure at home.
Once that is taken care of, the disease can be controlled. Unfortunately there are a lot of myths and taboos around the medication which leads to making it a last option which also causes delay in treatment and, in some cases, proves fatal.
Q Air purifiers at home and in offices are being installed to improve the quality of air? Does this help?
Air purifiers do help but what is most important is that during this season, asthmatics have to drink warm water, eat warm foods and avoid anything that is cold or chilled. They must not move out in those zones where the quality of air is bad as it will affect them. A use of mask is preferred, and during a sudden dip in temperatures, being indoors is the best.
What constitutes as climate change
Pollution is one of the major reasons for children to suffer from asthma.
a) 10-15 per cent of children in rural and urban area suffer from the disease.
b) Total prevalence in adults is eight to 10 per cent.
c) Indoor allergens like incense sticks, room fresheners, in-house use of chemicals and mosquito coils are some of the reasons for the disease.
d) Outdoor pollution from vehicles, construction sites, burning of wood, leaves and other materials like tyre, plastic and scrap are amongst the major reasons.