Asthma, which has become an important health problem worldwide, is considered one of the most common reasons for consulting a doctor among chronic respiratory diseases. Every year, the first Tuesday of May is celebrated as “World Asthma Day” to raise awareness about asthma. Near East University Hospital Chest Diseases Department specialist Fadime Tülücü says that asthma, whose incidence has increased as in all allergic diseases in recent years, can be completely controlled with correct follow-up and treatment.
Genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of asthma, which develops due to the excessive sensitivity of the airways. Dr. Fadime Tülücü summarizes the complaints about asthma as follows; “The patient has shortness of breath, wheezing and cough, which usually comes with exposure to some triggers and sometimes as spontaneous attacks. These complaints follow a variable course depending on the risk factors that can and cannot be changed. Usually, it intensifies at night or in the morning. Complaints may be self-correcting or severe enough to require hospitalization. Therefore, follow-up and treatment are important."
How is asthma diagnosed?
The most important step in diagnosing asthma is the history of the complaints. Since the complaints vary, examination, chest X-ray, blood tests, respiratory function tests can be completely normal during the application to the doctor. An examination may be required to exclude other diagnoses or to follow the course of the disease. Respiratory function tests and PEF meter are frequently used tests. In addition, allergic skin tests can be performed when the allergen-induced trigger is considered.
Noting that allergic complaints play an important role in asthma, Dr. Tülücü also pointed out that not all asthmatics are allergic. Dr. Fadime Tülücü lists the risk factors related to asthma as follows: The presence of asthma in the family, having occupations that are exposed to dust and chemicals by inhalation, being morbidly obese, the mother's smoking during pregnancy, being born with premature birth or low birth weight, or allergens in early infancy, and intense exposure to cigarette smoke, severe respiratory diseases.
Factors that trigger asthma
Frequent and intense encounters with triggers can worsen the course of the disease. These triggers that almost everyone can be exposed to include mold fungus spores, pollen, house dust mites, pet hair and skin debris, cockroaches, some cleaning products, indoor and outdoor air pollution, metal or wood dust, exhaust gas, chemical gases, some food products containing preservatives, some types of drugs, gastroesophageal reflux, viral upper respiratory tract infections, allergic rhinitis and sinusitis, cold weather, intense physical activity, stress and sudden changes in emotional state, smoking or exposure to smoke, sometimes laughing or sobbing.
Dr. Fadime Tülücü; "Strategies should be developed to reduce the asthma burden and other related factors"
Asthma creates an important disease burden for countries with both its diagnosis and chronic follow-up and attack processes. If the disease is not treated, it creates higher costs for both the patient and the society, with the frequency of attacks, severity, hospitalization and increased workforce loss. Dr. Fadime Tülücü draws attention to the fact that strategies to reduce the disease burden and other related factors should be prioritized as a country policy in health service delivery. “Both at the ministry and at the level of doctors; Support should be given to this process with various physician trainings and documentation throughout the country.”
Recommendations for asthmatic patients and family physicians
Dr. Fadime Tülücü makes the following recommendations to asthma patients in addition to the treatment plan they will take under the supervision of a doctor;
- Stay away from indoor and outdoor air pollution. Do not go out in very cold or dirty weather, wear a mask if you have to go outside. In cold weather, keep your breath warm with a mask or scarf. Use heating, cooking and cleaning methods that will not cause indoor air pollution.
- Do not keep dust-generating items in the bedroom, such as fluffy rugs, porous-fluffy curtains, plush toys. Use house dust mite-proof bedspreads for your allergic children. Do not keep pets indoors if you are allergic to animal hair. If you have to feed, wash it once or twice a week, use vacuum cleaners with powerful HEPA filters to clean the house. Remove any items with mold from the house.
- Do not smoke, do not stay in a smoking environment
- Exercise; Do not exercise in dusty and cold weather as it may cause attacks in asthmatic patients. Use airway dilating medication before starting exercise.
- Since patients with asthma are more easily caught in respiratory diseases, the dose of asthma medication can be increased under the supervision of a doctor. Get COVID-19, flu, and pneumococcal vaccine.
- If you have asthma, do not stop taking your medications during the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to prevent the spread of infection during the pandemic period, do not use a nebulizer and do not perform a respiratory function test unless it is necessary.