Asthma sufferers need not settle for poor asthma control

Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airway that can be controlled well enough for the majority of sufferers to live normal and active lives. Unfortunately, a recent poll reveals that, generally, Canadian asthma sufferers have mediocre control of their disease.

Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airway that can be controlled well enough for the majority of sufferers to live normal and active lives. Unfortunately, a recent poll reveals that, generally, Canadian asthma sufferers have mediocre control of their disease.

In fact, close to 60% of asthma cases in Canada are poorly controlled. Consequence: asthma is the primary cause of visits to emergency rooms in the country, which could easily be avoided. It is also estimated that approximately 20 children and 500 adults perish from asthma each year in Canada.

Asthma is caused by inflammation in the lungs. The bronchial tubes, the tubes that carry air to the lungs, are chronically inflamed and react excessively at the first sign of asthma “triggers”. The muscles around the bronchial tubes tighten, while the glands produce too much mucous that accumulates in the bronchial tubes. Asthma symptoms – mainly shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest and intolerance to physical effort – are the result of the irritation of the bronchial tubes and their exaggerated reaction. When asthma is well controlled, these manifestations are either minimal or non-existent. However, when asthma is severe or poorly controlled, these symptoms can become chronic.

We consider asthma to be well controlled when a patient experiences symptoms less than four days per week. In all cases, symptoms such as coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath should not hinder daily activities, nor prevent sufferers from working or going to school. Asthma sufferers should not experience symptoms at night or upon waking and should be able to tolerate physical activity. Emergency medications like Ventolin® for example, should not be used more than three times per week, with the exception of the doses taken prior to physical exercise.

Do you recognize yourself in this portrait of optimal asthma control? If you are suffering from asthma and your symptoms are more bothersome than they should be, speak with your pharmacist without delay. Your pharmacist will suggest various ways to improve control of your asthma, or advise you see your physician if necessary.

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