According to the Global Asthma Report, an estimated 300 million people worldwide are affected by asthma. In the Philippines, approximately 11 Million or 1 out 10 Filipinos are suffering from this debilitating disease. This incurable disease burdens patients with a sense of imprisonment and constant restraint preventing them to live their lives to the fullest.
“Asthma is a recurring inflammatory disorder in the airways of breathing, which undergoes variable expiratory flow and reversible bronchoconstrictions. In people with asthma, the airways are chronically inflamed. Certain triggers can make the inflammation worse and cause a narrowing of the airways”, shares Dr. Melvin Pasay, a pulmonologist and Medical Affairs Manager of GSK.
Common symptoms include constant wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing often late at night or early in the morning. Asthma can be triggered by dust, changes in weather (often cold), animals (pet hair in particular), exercise, tobacco smoke and stress.
The cause of asthma is unknown. However as shared by Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Inc. (PSAAI) President, Dr. Carmela Kasala, several predisposing factors to consider include genetic history (personal history or first degree relative) with asthma, allergic rhinitis, eczema; weight and smoking history. “While there is also no known cure for asthma, this serious chronic disease can be controlled and effectively treated. By establishing a strong partnership between a patient and his doctor, results showed that asthma can be controlled” shares Dr. Kasala.
BURDEN OF HAVING ASTHMA
In the Asia Pacific, including the Philippines, a study showed that activity limitation caused by asthma has been quite prevalent. A mean of 44.7% of respondents reported that normal physical activity was compromised, and 37.9% believed that their choice of job or career was limited. A total of 52.7% of respondents said that sports and recreation were affected, and 37.6% believed their lifestyle was restricted while almost 50% reported sleep disturbances.
“A lot of asthma patients have resigned and became ‘prisoners’ to their condition. Many seem to have created imaginary cages and locking themselves up with lifestyle restrictions. They are assuming that frequent symptoms, exacerbations and lifestyle limitations are inevitable consequences of having asthma – unaware that their condition can be controlled,” observes Dr. Pasay.
ASTHMA CONTROL AWARENESS
What is alarming is that 98 percent of Filipino asthma patients remain uncontrolled or only partly controlled.
“This means that asthma patients will only use medication when they have attacks believing that as long as there are no attacks they will be okay. As such, they believe that it is enough that they have available medicines to be taken on an as-needed basis,” shares Dr. Sylvia Yang, World Asthma Day committee chair of Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP).
Regular visits and consultations with doctors likewise became less as children grew up and had lesser asthma attacks. Most are relying on peers, family and even online resources to provide limited information and possibly, sub-optimal treatment for their condition. This makes patients underestimate their condition leading to poor asthma control.
Cost of treatment is also a main consideration for compliance, but the truth is uncontrolled asthma can lead to higher odds of hospitalization and emergency room visits and become more expensive due to direct medical cost like hospitalization or medications and indirect cost like time lost from work, overall productivity or even premature death.
WORLD ASTHMA DAY
In celebration of World Asthma Day, an annual event organized by the “Global Initiative for Asthma” (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world, GSK Philippines unveils “ASTHMAlaya Ka Ba Talaga? campaign, a disease awareness initiative that also seeks to encourage asthma patients, to be more proactive in consulting their doctors on how they can achieve asthma control.
So how do you know if you need asthma control? It’s easy, if you are an asthma patient who experiences daytime asthma symptoms (coughing or wheezing) more than twice a week, wakes up at night due to asthma, uses an asthma reliever more than twice a week or have any activity limitations due to asthma, you may have uncontrolled asthma and need to immediately consult your doctor.
The celebration was participated by advocates from Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP) and the Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Inc. (PSAAI) who are one with the advocacy of furthering awareness and urgency among patients to consult their doctors for proper asthma control.
As Dr. Pasay profoundly put it, “Our message is clear; “You don’t have to serve a life sentence of limitations because of Asthma, be in control and be ASTHMALAYA!”
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For more information, please consult your doctor. Kindly forward all adverse events and product complaints to GSK Philippines via these contact details:
Adverse effects: [email protected] or 0917 889 0640.
Product complaints: 0917 889 7050.
In relation with the World Asthma Day, the Philippine College of Chest Physicians shared us these valuable information in a form of a question and answer list which will help you answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Asthma.
1. WHAT IS PCCP (Philippine College of Chest Physicians)?
• a value centered specialty organization acknowledged as the authority in pulmonary medicine in the country.
2. WHAT IS WAD (World Asthma Day)?
• is an annual event since 1998 organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world
• WAD takes place in the first Tuesday of May.
3. DEFINE ASTHMA
• it is a heterogenous disease usually characterized chronic airway inflammation. It is defined by the history of respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and cough that vary over time and intensity, together with variable expiratory airflow limitation
4. WHAT ARE THE COMMON ASTHMA MYTHS THAT NEED TO BE CORRECTED?
A. EATING GECKOS (TUKO) TO CURE ASTHMA
• Lizard or geckos are often dried, grilled or fried and then consumed by the sufferer, supposedly to cure asthma and other diseases like cancer and HIV. To debunk this myth, the Philippine government even issued a warning against the use of these poor creatures as a cure.
• Collecting and trading geckos without permit can result a fine of 300,000 pesos and a jail time of up to four months.
• There are claims the innards of the ” TUKO” contains a powerful enzyme that can stop or cure tumor cells, treat asthma while the meat is turned into powder to be ingested as medicine.
• Health authorities belie all these reports as “myth” declaring that there has yet to be a medical research to support such claim . (Source: Balita/ July 30, 2011)
B. ASTHMA MEDICINE IS ONLY NEEDED TO STOP AN ATTACK
• That depends. People who have mild, moderate and severe persistent asthma need a daily long term controller medicine, usually an inhaled corticosteroid, to control inflammation and minimize asthma attack.
C. PEOPLE CAN OUTGROW ASTHMA
• Asthma is a chronic, treatable condition that develops in childhood. It’s no longer considered a disease that children “outgrow,” however, symptoms may improve during adolescence and adulthood.
• When asthma is diagnosed for the first time in an adult, it’s likely that the condition is present, but mild and undetected earlier.
D. ASTHMA IS EASY TO CONTROL
• This often depends on how well you follow your asthma treatment plan- the condition can be difficult to manage. Goals of treatment include preventing chronic symptoms and asthma flares, maintaining normal lung function and activity levels, and avoiding serious or long term medication side effects.
E. ALLERGIES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ASTHMA
• Inflamed airways in people who have asthma are more sensitive to allergens and allergens are common asthma triggers.
• According to recent studies, more than 50% of asthma cases in the USA are linked to allergies.
• Common allergens include cats, pollen, mold and dust mites.
F. PEOPLE WITH ASTHMA SHOULDN’T EXERCISE
• Regular exercise can improve lung function and help maintain a healthy weight- reducing asthma risk and help breath easier.
• Talk to a pulmonary doctor or asthma specialist before beginning and exercise program.
• It’s the only trigger that should not be avoided. (note of exercise induced asthma in some patients)
G. PEOPLE WITH ASTHMA CAN’T GET THE FLU SHOT
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for people who have asthma.
• Flu can trigger an asthma attack.
H. MOVING TO A DRY CLIMATE CAN CURE ASTHMA
• A change in environment can temporarily improve asthma symptoms, but it won’t cure the disease. To reduce asthma triggers at home: have your air conditioner unit cleaned every year and change the filter as needed, keep your windows closed during pollen season, and use a dehumidifier if living in a damp climate.
I. ASTHMA MEDICINES ARE HABIT FORMING
• Medications used to treat asthma are not addictive; however, because asthma is a chronic disease, long term use of medicine is often needed to manage the condition and prevent an attack.
• It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendation for treatment, even when symptoms are well controlled.
J. ASTHMA IS A PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITION
• Asthma causes the lungs and the immune system to overreact to certain triggers. Asthma is a disease of inflammation of the lungs, although stress and emotions can sometimes exacerbate asthma symptoms, related to fast and heavy breathing.
K. STEROIDS USED TO TREAT ASTHMA ARE THE SAME AS THE STEROIDS USED BY ATHLETES TO GET BIGGER AND STRONGER
• the steroids used by athletes are testosterone, growth hormone and androstenedione
• the steroid used in asthma are glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid derivatives
L. WHEN I FEEL FINE AND HAVE NO SYMPTOMS ITS BECAUSE THE ASTHMA HAS GONE AWAY
• you still have asthma even when you feel fine and have no symptoms. Your asthma can be partially or well controlled depending on frequency and timing of symptoms, use of medications and impact on everyday quality of life.
M. NEBULIZERS ARE TH BEST WAY TO GIVE ADTHMA MEDICINES TO BABIES AND CHILDREN
• medicines given by metered dose inhaler with spacer with face mask is just as effective
N. DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS CAN HELP EASE ASTHMA SYMPTOMS
• There is no proof that specific nutrients help treat asthma. (according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
• A variety of herbs and supplements have been studied, but none have been found to improve asthma.