Suffering from Asthma? Here is why inhalers should be your best friend!

Published: July 1, 2015
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Inhalers are used by patients of asthma on a global level.Photo: AFP

Asthma is a rapidly spreading disease around the world, including Pakistan. The number of Asthma patients in Pakistan has increased to seven million, out of which two million are children. There are 300 million Asthma patients around the world and this figure is predicted to rise to 400 million by 2020, if preventive measures are not taken.

Asthma has no permanent cure and the victims have to live with the disease for the rest of their lives. There are many suppositions on asthma but as a patient of this disease myself, I can surely say that many of those assumptions are false.

My battle with asthma started way back in 1978. I can still recall the cold Murree night when I felt breathless for the first time. When my condition started deteriorating, the people around me, namely my relatives, were unable to understand my ailment. Unfortunately, my parents were not present at that time. Nevertheless, I was rushed to the hospital and after a long wait, my condition improved.

After a few days, we travelled back to Karachi as my parents were distressed by the news of me suffering an asthma attack. My family and friends were extremely sympathetic, even though neither of them had any knowledge of the disease. Moreover, panic was created which made me doubt my health and the idea of ever leading a normal life.

Now, after 37 years of living with Asthma, I can say with certainty that if a patient understands their disease, then they can lead a perfectly regular life and participate in all sorts of activities without any hindrance.

My experience has taught me that along with knowledge of the disease, one must observe what prompts their ailment, as it varies from person to person. For example, my mother’s asthma is triggered due to high climate temperature, whereas I am allergic to the cold weather.

I cannot comment on the global perceptions, but in Pakistan, we have many misconceptions about the disease. People try to eradicate the disease without making the effort to learn about the causes which triggers the asthma attacks in the first place.

I experienced various forms of treatment, including the allopathic, homeopathic, acupuncture, spiritual and herbal remedy. Neither of the consultants instructed me to conduct an allergy test, or advised me to avoid certain food items which may trigger the disease.

On a daily basis, I have to face many difficulties due to the pollution in city, from the burning garbage to the smoke radiating vehicles, dust and few other reasons. Although the numbers of smoke emitting vehicles may have decreased, as most of the public vehicles are converted to CNG, but other causes still exist which includes the smoke from cigarettes’ which is common in public places and even public transport.

In our society, due to lack of awareness on this disease, people get trapped by quacks and their condition worsens. I believe it is the responsibility of medical practitioners to spread knowledge about this disease by the use of mass media. For instance, brochures and pamphlets printed in local languages should be distributed in urban and rural areas of the country. The government should take proper steps for disposing garbage as burning garbage on the streets of the city can only make the condition worse.

Moreover, in my view with the mutual consensus of doctors around the world, inhalers are the best therapy for asthma patients. Not only do they provide quick relief, but also prevent the condition from worsening. In our society, fallacies about the use of inhalers also exist. People believe that regular use of inhaler will result in dependency on the instrument, leading to their weight to increase as well.

I carry my inhaler with me at all times and have been frequently using it since the last 24 years. As a result, I have not suffered any major asthma attack in this duration. My advice to all the asthma patients is to take an allergy test as soon as they encounter this disease. This will reveal the factors that trigger their asthma. Also, keep your prescribed inhaler with you at all times, use mask while moving on the roads, follow your doctor’s advice and regularly read about global research to keep yourself updated on the changing trends of the remedies and disease management.

Khurram Zia Khan

Khurram Zia Khan

The writer is the media manager of Asiatic Public Relations and tweets @KhurramZiaKhan (twitter.com/KhurramZiaKhan)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.