1 in 12 (3.9 million) South Africans suffer from asthma, 5 People in South Africa die from Asthma every week. South Africa has the world’s fourth highest asthma death rate among five to 35 year olds. (GINA) http://www.ginasthma.org http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ What is Asthma? Asthma is a disease in which the lung airways become inflamed and narrowed, making it difficult to breathe air out. What Causes Asthma? In most patients the cause of the airway inflammation is unknown. In some patients the cause is identified and is usually due to pollen, mould or animal dander. What are the signs and symptoms of Asthma? The most common features of asthma are a persistent cough, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. These are more severe at night. Is Asthma severe? Uncontrolled asthma can be a fatal life-threatening disease. Asthma can also lead to significant impairment in functioning, school and work absenteeism and exercise intolerance.
“1 in 12 (3.9 million) South Africans suffer from asthma, 5 People in South Africa die from Asthma every week. South Africa has the world’s fourth highest asthma death rate among 5 to 35 year olds. (GINA).”
How is asthma diagnosed? Asthma is usually confirmed by Lung Function Testing. Many other conditions present similar to asthma. These may require other investigations. The physician will usually investigate the patients’ medical history, family medical history as well as conduct a physical exam to identify features of asthma and determine the need for further investigations. How is Asthma treated? The mainstay of asthma treatment involves daily anti-inflammatory (Controller) medication to decrease the lung airway inflammation. These are usually administered via the inhaled route through specialized canisters and chambers. This route is preferred as the medication is delivered directly to the lungs, and it results in much lower side effects. Patients need to take this Controller medication daily even when symptom free. For acute attacks inhaled bronchodilators are used to rapidly and temporarily open the airways. This (Reliever) medication is only taken when needed. Can Asthma be cured? Yes, in some rare cases where the cause of the lung inflammation can be identified. Immunotherapy can be used to desensitize and cure asthma. How is Asthma Monitored? Patients monitor their asthma by keeping a diary of their symptoms, their use of medications and their Peak Flow values. The physician will usually review this diary at follow up appointments and adjust therapy accordingly. How often will I need to follow up with my physician? After your initial consultation, you will need to see your physician at intervals determined by the severity of your asthma.
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