SASKATOON, May 3, 2005-- Asthma rates continue to soar both in Canada and abroad. In Saskatchewan alone, 45,000 children and 55,000 adults suffer from this chronic lung condition and on a global scale, a staggering 300 million people suffer from asthma. By 2025, as a result of growing urbanization and increasing environmental pollutants, an additional 100 million people will suffer from asthma. This common, chronic lung disease affects people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and socio-economic levels.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways (the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs). People with asthma constantly suffer from varying degrees of inflammation and muscle constriction of the airways. This chronic inflammation causes the lining of the airways to become hyper-responsive to a variety of stimuli, especially allergens and irritants.
World Asthma Day puts the focus on this lung disease that leaves 8.4 per cent of the Canadian population struggling to breathe, says Dr. Brian Graham, President and CEO of The Lung Association of Saskatchewan.
The burden of asthma to governments, health care systems, families and patients is increasing. Asthma continues to be a major cause of hospitalization of children in Canada and is the number one cause of emergency room visits. Direct costs of asthma in Canada, which include medical/nursing care and medication, are estimated at $600 million per year.
There is no cure for asthma but with proper management, asthma can be controlled so that its impact on quality of life is minimized. Control of asthma can only be achieved when asthma education and appropriate therapy is provided by a team of skilled health care professionals, states Jan Haffner, Vice-President of health Initiatives for The Lung Association. As such, The Lung Association of Saskatchewan has developed a program to teach health care professionals how to better educate patients about managing their asthma. AsthmaTrecÃ£ (Asthma Training and Educator Course) has had over 100 health care professionals in Saskatchewan successfully complete the program. These educators now provide current information about the management of asthma to patients in various communities throughout the province.
In addition, The Lung Association is putting forward a five-point plan for people with asthma to help get them on the right path to managing their disease. With self-directed disease management, The Lung Association's five-point plan should decrease the health care utilization by patients.
The five-point plan includes:
1. Ask your doctor to prepare a written asthma action plan
The plan should be written and should include medications to take, as well as risk factors to avoid. Follow the plan carefully to prevent your asthma from getting worse.
2. Be aware of the factors that make your asthma worse
Learn about the allergens, irritants, and other conditions that make your asthma worse, and take steps to avoid them as much as possible.
3. Take medications prescribed by your doctor
Most people with asthma will be told by their doctor to take a medication to control swelling and inflammation in the airways, and another medication to relieve asthma symptoms.
4. Learn to recognize when your symptoms are getting worse
Learn how to recognize signs of worsening asthma, such as increasing cough, chest tightness, wheezing, difficulty breathing, sleep disturbance, or peak flow below your personal best despite increased use of medication.
5. Call The Lung Association for more information
The Lung Association has a number of resources and programs for people affected by asthma. One such activity that The Lung Association administers is the Discovery Asthma Camp which is held every year at Hitchcock's Hideaway on Lake Diefenbaker. This camp is offered so that children with asthma can enjoy the unique experience of summer camp, something they may not otherwise be able to enjoy because of their asthma. This year camp will be held from July 5-9 and still has room available for eligible children.
Further research is needed to identify the factors responsible for increased prevalence rates, as well as to study the primary prevention of asthma. For children and adults living with asthma, The Lung Association recommends good asthma education and working closely with health care professionals to help establish and maintain good asthma control.
For more information on asthma, call The Lung Association at 1-888-566-5864 or visit us at www.lung.ca.
When you can't breathe, nothing else matters!