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Asthma Symptoms and Treatment in Pakistan

Orawan Pattarawimonchai / Shutterstock, 2021

Medically reviewed by Dr. Muhammad Ashraf Shera.

Every year, World Asthma Day is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma, a World Health Organization collaborative organization founded in 1993. It is held each May to raise awareness of Asthma worldwide. Asthma has affected more than 300 million people worldwide with around 250,000 annual deaths. The prevalence of asthma in Pakistan is around 5% of the total population.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung condition. The condition inflames and narrows the airways, making it more difficult for an individual to breathe. Severe asthma can also impair an individual’s ability to remain active or even speak. The pathophysiology of asthma is complex and involves airway inflammation, intermittent airflow restriction, and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. The condition causes swelling of the bronchial tubes in an individual’s lungs, frequently resulting in serious damage. When one breathes normally, the bands of muscle that border the airways relax, allowing for effortless air movement. However, asthma symptoms in adults and children cause the muscles to stiffen, making it more difficult for the oxygen to travel through. Additionally, individuals with the condition have fragile airways that regularly overreact and shrink in response to the smallest triggers.

Causes of Asthma

  • Asthma is more likely if other family members also have asthma
  • Asthma is more likely in people who have other allergic conditions, such as eczema and rhinitis
  • Urbanization is associated with increased asthma prevalence, probably due to multiple lifestyle factors
  • Events in early life affect the developing lungs and can increase the risk of asthma. These include low birth weight, prematurity, exposure to tobacco smoke, and other sources of air pollution, as well as viral respiratory infections
  • Exposure to a range of environmental allergens and irritants including indoor and outdoor air pollution, house dust mites, molds, and occupational exposure to chemicals, fumes, or dust
  • Children and adults who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk of asthma

[Also read: Malaria symptoms and treatment in Pakistan]

What are the symptoms?

Not everyone who suffers from asthma experiences the same symptoms. Additionally, asthma signs and symptoms vary from mild to severe. When someone has asthma, their airways react to everything in their environment. Medical professionals refer to this occurrence as asthma triggers, which can either cause symptoms or exacerbate them.

Certain individuals with asthma may experience prolonged periods without symptoms, broken by periodic worsening of their symptoms known as asthma attacks. Others may experience asthma symptoms on a daily basis. Additionally, some people may develop asthma just after exertion or during viral infections such as colds.

Mild asthma attacks are more prevalent. The airways usually reopen within a few minutes to a few hours. Severe attacks are rare, but they continue longer and necessitate rapid medical attention. It is critical to recognize and treat even moderate asthma symptoms in order to help avoid severe attacks and maintain better control of one’s asthma.

Mild to severe asthma symptoms

  • Unusual breathing
  • When the skin surrounding your ribs pulls inward when you breathe in
  • Trouble talking, walking, or breathing

Asthma attack symptoms

An asthma attack is a condition in which the bands of muscle enclosing the airways contract. Because the severity of an asthma attack can rapidly worsen, it is critical to address these asthma symptoms as soon as they are recognized. Asthma attack symptoms include:

  • Severe wheezing when breathing both in and out
  • Coughing
  • Very rapid breathing
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Tightened neck and chest muscles
  • Difficulty talking
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic
  • Pale, sweaty face
  • Blue lips or fingernails

Treatment and prevention

Khealth, 2021

Asthma treatment in Pakistan continues to expand and improve. The purpose of treatment is to improve a person’s ability to breathe, decrease the frequency of attacks, and extend the range of activities available to them. Current treatment options include both immediate relief and long-term control drugs. The asthma vaccine in Pakistan is also widely available.

Quick-relief drugs can alleviate symptoms, but long-term control medications, when used daily, help minimize the number of attacks. Currently, available asthma medicines in Pakistan include long- and short-term bronchodilators that relax the muscles surrounding the airways, antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia or bronchitis, and anti-inflammatory medications such as inhaled corticosteroids for long-term maintenance or oral steroids for an acute attack.

Everyone who has asthma, including those who have exercise-induced asthma, must exercise on a regular basis. Regular exercise offers a number of health benefits, one of which is that it can assist a person’s total lung function and capacity increase. Before beginning a new exercise regimen, an individual should see their physician and determine whether activities are safe for them. It is possible that the doctor will advise a patient to abstain from specific activities. Otherwise, if a person’s asthma is controlled with medicine, they can generally participate in sports, exercise, and other strenuous activities.

By: Sanya Zahid








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