Thursday, May 30, 2024 | 21:56 WIB

Air pollution worsens asthma


World Asthma Day 2024

Jakarta, IO – World Asthma Day is celebrated every Tuesday of the first week of May. The theme for World Asthma Day 2024 “Asthma Education Empowered, Information Is Key”. Asthma is a heterogeneous respiratory disease, characterized by airway obstruction (which is usually reversible) and can affect sufferers of all ages. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 235 million people worldwide suffer from asthma. 2019 Global Burden of Diseases data contained reports of 461,000 deaths, signifying more than 1,000 deaths per day. 

“Air pollution, environmental changes and limited access to care can worsen patient conditions. Several epidemiological studies show that the prevalence of asthma in children in several large cities in Indonesia reaches 5-12%, depending on location and socio-economic environment. By understanding the symptoms, triggers, management and impact of asthma on daily life, we can eradicate stigma and facilitate understanding of this disease,” said dr. Budhi Antariksa, Sp.P(K), Ph.D, Chairman of the Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Working Group from the Indonesian Society of Respirology (PDPI) at a press conference commemorating World Asthma Day which was held on Tuesday (7/5/2024). 

It was revealed that the prevalence of asthma continues to rise, especially in low and middle-income countries. Insufficient inhaled drugs, especially those containing inhaled corticosteroids, is the main factor causing more than 90% of patients to not receive adequate treatment. “Key universal issues that require education include inaccurate or inappropriate diagnosis, underuse of anti-inflammatory corticosteroid inhalers, overuse of relievers, as well as over-reliance on short-acting beta2-agonists (SABA), both oral and inhaler, as well as a lack of patient recognition. which requires further assessment and management by specialists,” he said. 

dr. Putu Ayu Diah, Sp.P
dr. Putu Ayu Diah, Sp.P (Source: Priv. Doc)

Asthma Control (GINA) 

On the same occasion, dr. Putu Ayu Diah, Sp.P, reported how the Global Asthma Network estimates there are 18 million (7.5%) asthma patients in Indonesia. “Symptoms of asthma vary from time to time, in the form of coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing or gasping, chest feeling heavy. In asthma patients, there are very annoying secretions and narrowed airways. Symptoms come and go periodically and get worse when triggered by an allergen. Each asthma patient has different allergens. Apart from air pollution, motor vehicle fumes, and household fumes, factors that trigger asthma can be house dust mites, animal dander, pollen, emotions, physical fatigue or uncertain weather conditions.” 

Although it cannot be cured, asthma can be controlled, so that symptoms remain harmless and patients can live a normal life. “Parents who have a history of allergies should understand the warning signs if a family member experiences asthma symptoms. Asthma is a reversible disease, patients can improve after resting, avoiding allergens, staying away from cigarettes/vaping, and using inhalers according to doctor’s advice. The optimal treatment is a spray or inhalation medication that works directly on the area of the asthma attack. But it is best to go to a hospital immediately if you suffer a severe asthma attack,” advised the pulmonologist from Mangusada Hospital, Badung, Bali. 

In extreme weather such as current conditions, dr. Ayu Diah emphasized how asthma patients should cut back on outdoor activities to avoid exposure to excessive heat. “Cases of asthma recurrence in adults related to hot weather have recently increased in Bali. Attacks tend to be moderate to severe, requiring admission to the ICU and intubation or a ventilator. However, asthma patients should also be wary of cold weather, which can trigger infections in the upper respiratory tract in the form of coughs or colds – running a risk of triggering an attack.” 

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She explained how controlling asthma involves applying the method recommended by the Global Initiatives for Asthma (GINA), answering yes or no to the following four questions: 1. Did you suffer an asthma attack during the day more than twice a week over the last 4 weeks?; 2. Did asthma awaken you at night?; 3. Have you been using SABA lozenges more than two times a week?; 4. Has asthma interfered with your activities? If the answer is 0 to yes, it means the asthma is fully controlled; 1-12 partially controlled; and 3-4 uncontrolled. 

Finally, she reminded asthma patients to choose sports that can strengthen endurance, such as Indonesian Asthma Gymnastics (IAG) exercises, swimming, yoga, or Pilates. “Exercise can also strengthen chest muscles, but patients must be able to measure their abilities. Stop immediately if breathing becomes heavy or short. Don’t choose sports like football or futsal. Exercise as needed, because asthma can be induced or triggered by certain activities. Asthma exercises have been proven to improve patients’ quality of life,” she concluded. (est)


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