10 Apr 2018 – 10:20
DOHA: With around 20 percent of school-aged children in Qatar, incorrect use of medications is a leading cause of unnecessary asthma attacks, emergency department visits, and hospital admissions, said an expert.
The condition cannot be cured, it can be controlled and ongoing medical care is an important part of the equation, said Dr Mehdi Adeli, Senior Consultant in Allergy and Immunology at the HMC.
“Asthma is a chronic respiratory illness but it is a manageable disease. It is managed by controlling inflammation with medication, good medical care, monitoring, and avoiding triggers, when possible,” says Dr Adeli, who also leads HMC’s Allergy and Immunology Awareness Program.
Triggers are factors that irritate the airways and cause asthma symptoms. There are multiple triggers of asthma, with allergens and irritants being the most common. Triggers can change from season to season and as a child grows older, but common triggers include dust mites, pet dander, viral infections, and cigarette smoke. The change in weather can also be a trigger, with Qatar’s summer months often bringing dust and humidity.
“Identifying triggers, allergens and irritants, can take time but once patterns are discovered some triggers can be avoided and steps can be taken to reduce exposure to others. It is important for parents to know that allergies develop over time with continued exposure to allergens, so a child’s asthma may change over time.
“It is also important for parents to know that while allergies can make asthma worse, not all children with asthma have allergies,” says Dr. Adeli.
According to Dr Adeli, the transition from winter to summer can be challenging for patients with asthma, both children and adults, because it is the time of year when some stop taking their medication.
“For many individuals with asthma, this time of year is the best time in terms of managing symptoms. The warm weather often helps to alleviate symptoms and spending more time outside, getting exercise and having reduced exposure to indoor allergens can reduce flare-ups.
“During this time of year, we also see fewer patients with colds and flu and respiratory infections can be a leading cause of asthma attacks. However, this can be a dangerous time for those with asthma as the lessening of symptoms can be accompanied by some patients reducing, or even stopping, their asthma medications,” says Dr. Adeli.
Dr. Adeli says it is important for patients, and parents in the case of child patients, to ensure all medications are taken as prescribed, even if there are no symptoms. He says many patients are lulled into a false sense of security if they go for a long period without an attack, but that stopping prescribed medications can result in compromised lung function.