Workers’ Day is not only a reason to take a day off work; 1 May is also World Asthma Day and throughout May, the Allergy Foundation of SA (AFSA) is raising awareness of this distressing condition with advice and guidelines on how best to manage it.
Correctly managed and treated, asthma can be controlled and it is important to seek medical help as soon as symptoms are experienced. Prof.
Claudia Gray, paediatrician and allergologist, says, “Asthma is the most common non-communicable disease and as such deserves much attention.
The goal is for asthmatics to lead as normal and active a life as possible. Accurate diagnosis and tailored, effective treatment are essential and very possible in the South African context.”
“Asthma affects people of all ages, although the onset is more often during childhood. It is the most common chronic childhood disease.”
- South Africa has the fifth highest asthma-related death rate in the world.
- A conservative annual figure of asthma-related fatalities in SA is 15 000, of which 12 000 should be preventable.
- Asthma is also the third most common illness resulting in hospitalisation, adding significantly to healthcare costs in both the public and private sectors.
- Eight out of 10 asthmatics will also suffer from allergic rhinitis, or hay fever.
- Asthma affects people of all ages, although the onset is more often during childhood. It is the most common chronic childhood disease, with approximately 20% of children and 10% of adults having asthma.
- Young children who frequently have wheezing symptoms, with or without viral infections, are the most likely to have asthma.
- Other associated risk factors include allergies such as eczema, or parents who have asthma.
- Many, but not all, people with asthma have allergies to environmental allergens such as house dust mite or grass.
- In children, more boys than girls have asthma, but among adults, more women than men have the disease! It’s not clear whether or how sex and sex hormones play a role in causing asthma.
- Some people may develop asthma because of contact with chemicals or dust in their workplace. This type of asthma is called occupational asthma.
For more detail on how to manage asthma visit: http://www.allergyfoundation.co.za/patient-information/en/asthma/ and download the free AFSA leaflet: “How to control asthma”.
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