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Dealing with asthma in Bengaluru, And the Misconception about Inhalers

Misconceptions about inhalers are widespread among the patients, say doctors.
f you frequently experience shortness of breath or you hear a whistling or wheezy sound in your chest when you breathe, you may have asthma and you should immediately seek a doctor in the city to treat it.
Cases of asthma, a common long-term disease of the lungs usually increase in Bengaluru in winters and health experts point to the change in temperature, rising pollution levels and the tendency to stay indoors in the winters among the reasons for the rise. “Cases of asthma increases in winter as people tend to stay indoors and don’t get fresh air and sneeze a lot in the season. The unseasonal rains in November also contributed to this,” explains Dr. Vivek Anand, a doctor at Fortis Hospital in the city.
Asthma is diagnosed based on lung function tests – a group of tests that measure how well your lungs are able to breathe and bring oxygen to the rest of your body. “Those who have asthma will not be able to blow well, but after therapy, there will be around 12% improvement in the lung function test,” says Dr. Priya Ramachandran, a pulmonologist from Koramangala.
Asthma is often triggered by an allergic reaction by the body that narrows the airways to the lung. While many outgrow asthma with timely treatment, others may have a lifelong ailment that affects intermittently. “Unfortunately, asthma is not a treatable condition that clears up once it is treated. It is more like blood pressure or blood sugar which is a recurring or persistent problem. For some people, it might require lifelong treatment while for others it may be only during a particular time in the year like winters,” says Ramachandran.

Managing Asthma

Experts including Priya also say that the disorder can almost be controlled but refusal of people, especially parents of children, to accept diagnosis, and serious misconceptions about inhalation therapy, the preferred form of treatment for asthma, means that asthma continues to affect residents in the city.
The first step is avoiding dust. Over the past few months due to road construction work happening near St Johns Road, there are a lot of people coming with symptoms of asthma, especially many have never had anything like that before,” says Dr. Priya Ramachandran.
Bengaluru’s air pollution levels have also been under the scanner with the recently started daily-update air quality monitor revealing that the amount of PM10 and PM 2.5 particulate matter in the air were far greater than permissible levels in parts of the city.
Once a person is affected, experts agreed that inhalation therapy is the best form of treatment for asthma. This is because it avoids all the side effects of other medicines as its given directly to the lungs where it is required and the dose is miniscule compared to syrups or tablets.

Misconceptions about inhalers

However, doctors revealed that misconceptions about inhalers was widespread among the patients they met on a daily basis. “There is an urban legend in Bangalore that inhalers are dangerous or addictive in some way. Many patients I come across are hesitant to use inhalers even though researchers have proven that this is the best course of treatment for asthma. I have had to dispel this myth whenever I deal with asthma patients, says Dr. Anand.
These misconceptions are driven by promoters of alternative therapy for asthma that say that inhalers are addictive. Alternative therapies do not work and we have seen that,” says Dr. Vandana Prabhu, based in HSR Layout.
She also said that emergencies arise because patients don’t take medicines regularly. “If rescue medicines do not relieve the patient or if they are not able to talk a complete sentence in a breath, it is advised to head to a hospital,” says Ramachandran.
A common rescue medicine is Salbutamol while steroid inhalers are preventive medicines to treat asthma.
The aim of asthma treatment is to control symptoms and live normally. It is a treatment where patients are in control of how they are treated and we have seen that once people try inhaler therapy they can see the results for themselves,” adds Ramachandran.