World Asthma Day is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world.
World Asthma Day takes place each year on the first Tuesday in May. The aim is to improve asthma care and awareness of asthma around the world.
- Asthma is one of the major noncommunicable diseases. It is a chronic disease of the the air passages of the lungs which inflames and narrows them.
- Some 235 million people currently suffer from asthma. It is a common disease among children.
- Most asthma-related deaths occur in low- and lower-middle income countries.
- According to the latest WHO estimates, released in December 2016, there were 383 000 deaths due to asthma in 2015.
- The strongest risk factors for developing asthma are inhaled substances and particles that may provoke allergic reactions or irritate the airways.
- Medication can control asthma. Avoiding asthma triggers can also reduce the severity of asthma.
- Appropriate management of asthma can enable people to enjoy a good quality of life.
The fundamental causes of asthma are not completely understood. The strongest risk factors for developing asthma are a combination of genetic predisposition with environmental exposure to inhaled substances and particles that may provoke allergic reactions or irritate the airways, such as:
- indoor allergens (for example, house dust mites in bedding, carpets and stuffed furniture, pollution and pet dander)
- outdoor allergens (such as pollens and moulds)
- tobacco smoke
- chemical irritants in the workplace
- air pollution.
Other triggers can include cold air, extreme emotional arousal such as anger or fear, and physical exercise. Even certain medications can trigger asthma: aspirin and other non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, and beta-blockers (which are used to treat high blood pressure, heart conditions and migraine).
Urbanization has been associated with an increase in asthma. But the exact nature of this relationship is unclear.
Reducing the asthma burden
Although asthma cannot be cured, appropriate management can control the disease and enable people to enjoy a good quality of life. Short-term medications are used to relieve symptoms. Medications such as inhaled corticosteroids are needed to control the progression of severe asthma and reduce asthma exacerbation and deaths.
People with persistent symptoms must take long-term medication daily to control the underlying inflammation and prevent symptoms and exacerbations. Inadequate access to medicines and health services is one of the important reasons for the poor control of asthma in many settings.
Medication is not the only way to control asthma. It is also important to avoid asthma triggers – stimuli that irritate and inflame the airways. With medical support, each asthma patient must learn what triggers he or she should avoid.
Although asthma does not kill on the scale of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other chronic diseases, failure to use appropriate medications or to adhere to treatment can lead to death.