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What is World Asthma Day?

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This May 4th is World Asthma Day. The event, organised by the Global Initivative for Asthma (GINA), is aimed at everyone who may directly or indirectly be affected by the condition. The theme this year is “You can control your asthma“ and GINA is already busy spreading the word. Individuals are encouraged to organise events in order to raise awareness, gaining media coverage and recruiting members from local medical authorities where possible.

On the day GINA plans to launch a campaign to reduce asthma hospitalizations by 50% in the space of 5 years, also called the global Asthma Control Challenge.

Asthma UK in the meantime will be focusing its efforts on a more specific challenge – that of making sure that every parent or guardian of a child who may be suffering from asthma knows exactly what to do should the youngster have an attack.

The organisation states that, to mark World Asthma Day, it will release new data showing that most people caring for a child would not know what action to take in the case of an attack.

“This situation is wholly unacceptable and needs to be addressed urgently,“ states the Asthma UK website, “In light of this we’re urging everyone who has children in their care to carry an Asthma Attack Card, and for people with asthma to have a Personal Asthma Action Plan.“

A Personal Asthma Action Plan enables the patient to work together with their doctor in recognising when symptoms get better or worse, what can be done about it and what medication is most effective. According to Asthma UK, the plan is essential to managing the condition, with sufferers not taking part making themselves four times more likely to need emergency hospital treatment.

Asthma is a condition affecting the airways of the lungs. Certain triggers, such as dust mites, animal fur or chest infections, cause the airways to become inflamed and swolen, making breathing difficult. The sufferer can experience shortness of breath, a tight chest and may begin coughing and wheezing. The duration and severity of attacks is variable and is sometimes worse during the night or while exercising.

Once diagnosed, the patient undergoes an assessment, looking closely at their symptoms and attacks. A plan is then put together on how he or she can best manage their asthma with certain control methods and medications.

Images: net_efekt and Wikimedia Commons

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