Asthma is now one of the worlds most common long-term conditions, affecting an estimated 300 million people worldwide, according to a report issued by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA).
The Global Burden of Asthma Report, commissioned by GINA ,aims to raise awareness of asthma around the world and highlights the economic concern and social costs of the condition.
When a persons asthma is not under control, the economic and social costs of the disease are greatly increased, said Ginny Penzi R.N., Health Promotion Director, Winnebago County Health Department. If not treated, asthma often leads to hospitalization, missed work and school, limitations on physical activity, sleepless nights and, in some cases, death.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by recurrent breathing problems and symptoms such as breathlessness, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. During normal breathing, air flows freely into and out of the lungs. But when asthma is not under control, the airways of the lungs are thick, swollen, and inflamed. The airways become overly sensitive to environmental changes, and an asthma attack can happen easily. During an asthma attack, the lining of the airways swells, muscles around the airways tighten, and mucus clogs the tiny airways in the lungs, making breathing difficult.
There is no clear cause of asthma, but several risk factors have been linked to triggering asthma attacks. Family history of asthma and environmental factors play the key roles in suffering with the condition. Allergies play a role in only about half of all asthma cases. Listed below are five steps people can do to reduce the burden of asthma.
1. Ask your doctor to prepare a written personal asthma management plan.
2. Take medications prescribed by your doctor.
3. Be aware of the risk factors that make your asthma worse.
4. Learn to recognize when your symptoms are getting worse.
5. Know what to do in an asthma attack.
To learn more about asthma, contact the Health Promotion Program at the Winnebago County Health at 720-4250.