With a steady increase in the number of patients suffering from asthma in Qatar, the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has advised patients to seek early treatment.
Marking World Asthma Day being observed today, HMC is working to raise awareness about the chronic inflammatory disease.
“For a variety of reasons many asthma patients don’t seek medical attention until their symptoms become severe enough that they need to visit the Emergency Department,” said Dr Salem Abu Salah, Senior Consultant at Hamad General Hospital’s Emergency Department
“It is important that patients work with their primary healthcare physician to first diagnose the condition and then develop a treatment plan that will help prevent attacks as well as provide the tools to manage an attack, should one occur.” He said the increase in cases can be attributed to a number of factors, but Qatar’s desert climate, and specifically sudden changes in weather conditions, is the main culprit.
According to the World Health Organization, 235 million people suffer from asthma. Although asthma cannot be cured, appropriate management can control the disease and enable individuals suffering from asthma to enjoy a good quality of life.
Asthma causes the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow, leading to breathing difficulties. It is thought to be the most common chronic disease among children. The signs of an asthma attack usually include wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.
Treatment plans vary from patient to patient depending on the severity of symptoms and Abu Salah has stressed the importance of patients understanding the severity of their condition.
“Regardless of whether a patient’s asthma is classified as mild or severe, treating the condition requires a multi-disciplinary approach, including the use of prophylactic therapy. An asthma attack can escalate very quickly. Avoiding attacks, reducing inflammation, and preventing lung damage are the primary goals of treatment,” he said.
“With a good treatment plan most patients will be able to stay out of the Emergency Department. Patients should seek emergency medical treatment if they experience severe breathlessness, are unable to speak due to shortness of breath, have a fever or experience straining chest muscles.”
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