Medical File: What is Asthma?

Medical File: What is Asthma?
06 May 2019
Globally, Asthma affects 15% of all children, and approximately 1 in 20 adults. In South Africa, it’s estimated that Asthma affects almost 4 million people, but many of them go undiagnosed and untreated.

One of the most common respiratory problems faced by people across the globe, Asthma can be managed as a chronic condition.

Asthma in South Africa

Globally, Asthma affects 15% of all children, and approximately 1 in 20 adults. In South Africa, it’s estimated that Asthma affects almost 4 million people, but many of them go undiagnosed and untreated. Sadly, owing mostly to an overburdened healthcare system, treating and managing Asthma often falls by the wayside. Yet, alarmingly, Asthma is a completely manageable chronic condition and, with the right medical supervision and assistance, asthmatics can live happy, healthy, and productive lives.

What causes Asthma?

Asthma is caused by inflamed airways, with the inflammation resulting from an allergic, stress-related, or illness-related reaction. Although it most often seems to be passed on through your family line, some children do outgrow Asthma. Notably, however, developing Asthma in adulthood means you should expect to need to manage it for the rest of your life. It’s important to consider Asthma as a long-term illness, that can be managed and controlled.

What are the symptoms of Asthma?

Wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tight chest are the most common symptoms of Asthma, that occur in a series of attacks. A person is considered to be asthmatic when they experience one or more acute Asthma attack within the space of a month.

How is Asthma diagnosed?

Being diagnosed with Asthma can be a little scary, but getting the right treatment is essential. Your family doctor or clinic sister will ask you questions relating to your breathing, sleeping, and how you feel after exercising. They will also conduct a physical examination, and perhaps run a lung function test or take a chest x-ray.

How is Asthma treated and managed?

Managing Asthma as a chronic condition is relatively easy to do. Because Asthma cannot be cured, the purpose of Asthma treatment is to prevent further attacks. The Allergy Foundation of South Africa has shared an interesting infographic on how to manage Asthma. We recommend downloading it and keeping it handy if you have been diagnosed with Asthma. Once you’ve been diagnosed with Asthma, you will be given medication to help control the condition. This may include an Asthma pump or inhaler, that helps you to manage an Asthma attack, and other medication that helps to keep attacks at bay. You should keep a record of your symptoms, and attacks, as this can help to further improve your Asthma treatment plan.

LifeDoc Can Help

If you’re concerned about your health, book an appointment with your family doctor, or specialist as soon as possible. Make that appointment, and take your notes using LifeDoc™. You can also note any Asthma-related symptoms and experiences using LifeDoc™. LifeDoc ™ can help. LifeDoc ™ helps you take charge of your personal health information, remember medical appointments, and securely stores your personal medical history. Stay up to date with LifeDoc™ on Facebook and Twitter.