Asthma is one of the most common lung diseases in the world, affecting more than 24 million people in the U.S alone. What’s more, 3 in every 5 people living with the condition cannot engage in most physical activities or have to miss days at work or school in the case of asthma attacks.
It is estimated that asthma costs the nation a staggering $56 billion every year. As you can see, the value of the World Asthma Day should not be undervalued. On May 2 2017, people living with asthma and organizations associated with asthma control and education will come together to celebrate the event while raising awareness about Asthma and how affected people can improve their lives?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. The disease is characterized by recurring periods of wheezing (that whistling sound you produce when you breath), coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. While asthma can affect anyone at any age, it usually begins during childhood. The symptoms can vary in frequency and severity but when they are not under control, they can make breathing extremely difficult.
During an attack, the lining of the bronchial tubes swell, the airways narrow down, and the flow of air in and out of the lungs reduces significantly. These attacks can lead to sleeplessness, reduced activity, fatigue, and even absenteeism from school or work. At the moment, there is no known cure for asthma.
Its basic causes are also not completely understood, although the risk factors for developing the condition are generally agreed to be a genetic predisposition and exposure to substances and particles that irritate your air passages. Some of these irritants include tobacco smoke, air pollution, chemicals, pets, and furnishings. Other causes include cold air, medications such as beta blockers and aspirin, physical exercise, and sometimes emotional reactions like fear, anger, and stress.
The good news is that you can control the symptoms and continue living your life to the fullest. There are two main types of medications used to treat asthma: quick relief medications and long term control medicines. The former help to relieve the symptoms when they act up, while the latter are used to reduce airway inflammation and suppress the symptoms.
What Happens During World Asthma Day
World Asthma Day can be traced back to 1998. The very first event coincided with the first World Asthma Meeting held in Barcelona, Spain, which involved at least 35 countries. Today, World Asthma Day is the most significant asthma awareness event in the world. It is celebrated every year on the first Tuesday of May, and continues throughout the month.
The main goal of World Asthma Day is to create awareness about asthma, and encourage care and support for people living with the disease. The support can also extend to friends, family and caregivers. The event is sponsored by the GINA organization (Global Initiative for Asthma). The institution is an initiative of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLB) and works with health care groups from across the globe in their efforts to raise awareness. The World Asthma Foundation also plays a major role in supporting World Asthma Day.
Which Activities Take Place on World Asthma Day
Activities for World Asthma Day normally extend throughout the month, which is why May is referred to as the Asthma Awareness Month. The central focus of the event is to educate people on how to take care of their asthma. GINA chooses a new theme for the occasion every year, and is also responsible for distributing materials and resources related with asthma awareness to participants.
Health care providers usually advise people living with asthma to take up the written Asthma Action Plan (AAP), alongside their family. This is designed to meet the specific needs of asthmatic patients like medications that counteract airway inflammations and environmental factors like tobacco smoke and dust mites.
AAP is a significant milestone in bringing together clinicians and other people taking care of asthmatic patients to seize control over the condition. Several activities are organized to help patients with persistent asthma live a normal life. These activities include:
- Highlighting everyday control over asthma and dealing with symptoms or occasional attacks
- Organizing free check-up camps to diagnose the severity of the condition and start the appropriate treatment.
- Controlling environmental exposures to keep irritants and allergens at bay.
- Launching new asthma clinics and pharmacies in the most needed locations.
- News and TV channels distributing asthma awareness messages to the public
- Teachers taking up classes on asthma prevention and precaution techniques
- Distributing and applying asthma awareness banners and posters in the most vulnerable areas to raise public awareness.