Each year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declares May as the National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, and the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) has set May 1 as World Asthma Day. Chances are, we probably know a family member, friend, co-worker who suffers from asthma.
Because May is a peak season for those with asthma and allergies, it is fitting we feature an asthma article - A recent Australian research found that asthma may be associated with an increased possibility of childhood bone fractures, especially for boys.
According to the 2018 Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention report by GINA, asthma has different underlying disease processes, some of the most common include allergic asthma, non-allergic asthma, late-onset asthma and asthma with obesity. Asthma is more common in boys than girls, prior to puberty. After 14 years, some adults, especially women, present with asthma for the first time in adult life. Obesity also increases the likelihood of developing asthma.
Recently, a plague of toxic caterpillars in London were found to trigger fatal asthma attacks, vomiting and skin rashes. The caterpillars were from a type of moths called oak processionary moths (OPM) and they feed on oak leaves. These OPM caterpillars are furry-looking, and the protein in their hair follicles can trigger serious allergic reactions, posing a particular risk to asthma sufferers, of whom there are more than 5.4 million in the UK. The protein can remain active on the ground for up to five years after being shed.
Although asthma cannot be cured, it can be controlled. This involves both the patient and healthcare providers. A clean environment, an understanding of triggers, timely medication, physical activity and healthy eating are key to avoiding asthma. Most of all, there needs to be more awareness.
As a common and chronic respiratory disease that affects about 300 million people worldwide, this disease impacts our economic well-being, from visits to the emergency department, to absence from school and work. There is no panacea for those who suffer from asthma. Breathe easy, National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month is worth recognizing as we raise awareness of this chronic condition.
Lim Guan Yu
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