Asthma and other respiratory diseases

The death rate and morbidity rate for asthma and other respiratory diseases is unacceptable and much of it can be prevented. 15 A recent report claims that at an estimated cost of $585 to $720 million per year the cost of asthma to the Australian community compares with the total cost of coronary artery disease ($623 million). 15 The report also claimed that there is evidence that a significant proportion of diagnosed asthmatics are currently receiving treatment that does not provide the best possible control of the disease.

Prevention means being better informed and treating such an 'irritable' disease as bronchial asthma aggressively. It means focusing on better assessment and monitoring (e.g. home use of the mini peak flow meter), better delivery of medication to the airways (e.g. use of spacers attached to inhalers and/ or use of pumps and nebulisers) and appropriate management of the cause (inflammation of the bronchial tree) by the use of inhaled corticosteroids or sodium chromoglycate as first-line treatment for significant asthma. Following the six-step asthma management plan (Table 9.5) of the National Asthma Campaign would certainly promote prevention in this fickle disease. The protective effect for asthma and COAD of vitamin C, fish oils, low-salt diet and other natural antioxidants is highlighted by Sridhar. 16

Table 9.5 The six-step asthma management plan (National Asthma Campaign: Australia)

1. Establish the severity of the asthma.

2. Achieve best lung function.

3. Maintain best lung function—avoid trigger factors.

4. Maintain best lung function—follow an optimal medication program.

5. Develop an action plan.

6. Educate and review regularly.

Coping with Asthma

Coping with Asthma

If you suffer with asthma, you will no doubt be familiar with the uncomfortable sensations as your bronchial tubes begin to narrow and your muscles around them start to tighten. A sticky mucus known as phlegm begins to produce and increase within your bronchial tubes and you begin to wheeze, cough and struggle to breathe.

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