If you frequently experience shortness of breath or hear a whistling or a wheezy sound in your chest when you breathe, you may have asthma - a common long-term disease of the lungs, and you should immediately see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and course of treatment.
In the past few months, there has been a surge in the number of respiratory diseases.
Asthma usually flares up in Bengaluru in the winter and health experts point to the change in temperature, and the tendency to stay indoors in the winters among the reasons. “The unseasonal rains in November also contribute to this,” says Dr. Vivek Anand, a doctor at Fortis Hospital in the city.
Bengaluru’s worsening air pollution levels with high PM10 and PM 2.5 levels are also a key factor.
What is Asthma
Asthma is a respiratory disease, where recurrent narrowing of airways of the lung results in breathing difficulties. It is a non-communicable disease; Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. “For some people, it might require lifelong treatment while for others it may be only during a particular time in the year like winters,” says Dr. Priya Ramachandran.
Asthma can be hereditary, or caused by an allergic reaction to environmental factors like dust and pollen. “Over the past few months due to road construction work happening near St Johns Road, there are a lot of people coming with symptoms of asthma, especially many who have never had anything like that before,” says Dr. Priya Ramachandran.
When do you need to go to an emergency?
If rescue medicines do not relieve you and if you are not able to say a complete sentence in one breath etc., it is advised to head to a hospital.
“There is an urban legend in Bengaluru that inhalers are dangerous or addictive in some way. Many patients I come across are hesitant to use inhalers even though researchers have proven that this is the best course of treatment for asthma. I have had to dispel this myth whenever I deal with asthma patients,” says Dr. Vivek Anand, a doctor at Fortis Hospital in the city.
“These misconceptions are driven by promoters of alternative therapy for asthma who say that inhalers are addictive. Alternative therapies do not work and we have seen that,” says Dr. Vandana Prabhu, based in HSR Layout.
However, improper dosage and frequent use of inhalation without consulting a doctor, can cause long-term side effects.
In India, as per WHO, there are an estimated 15-20 million asthmatics. And among 5 to 11-year-old children, the prevalence is roughly estimated to be 10-15%.
Bronchitis is the inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes. Acute bronchitis is characterised by a constant cough lasting for a few months, shortness of breath, wheezing, low grade fever and tightness of chest. Acute bronchitis is very common and mostly viral. Chronic bronchitis is characterised by ongoing inflammation, with airflow obstructed by mucus production. Asthma is different from Bronchitis. (Source: http://www.medindia.net)
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Inhaler is a small, handheld device that delivers a puff of medicine into your airways.
Nebuliser is a machine used to administer medication in the form of a mist inhaled into the lungs.