Asthma is a prevalent respiratory condition in the UAE, affecting a significant portion of both the adult and child populations. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of adults and 20 to 25 percent of school-aged children in the country have been diagnosed with asthma.
Dr. Gopal Chawla, a pulmonologist at NMC Specialty Hospital – Dubai Investments Park, has observed an increase in asthma cases, with 3-5 new diagnoses occurring each week. Many patients seeking medical attention for asthma present with chronic cough that persists despite previous antibiotic and anti-allergic treatments. Some of these patients had experienced childhood asthma that seemed to have resolved but resurfaced later in life.
Dr. Chawla emphasizes the need to dispel common misconceptions about asthma that can hinder proper treatment and management. It is important to address the belief that asthma is exclusively a childhood disease or that individuals will naturally outgrow it as they age. Asthma can manifest at any age, from childhood to adulthood, and it is not something that one simply grows out of. Additionally, asthma is not an infectious disease, although viral respiratory infections can trigger asthma attacks.
Contrary to popular belief, individuals with asthma can and should engage in exercise and physical activity. When asthma is well controlled, patients can participate in sports and maintain an active lifestyle. Asthma management typically involves the use of low-dose inhaled steroids and bronchodilators, rather than solely relying on high-dose steroids.
Dr. Shabanah, another medical professional, highlights the varying severity of asthma, ranging from mild intermittent disease to persistent and severe cases. It is crucial to understand that uncontrolled asthma can lead to long-term lung damage, resulting in reduced lung function, decreased oxygen intake, and difficulties with exercise and sleep.
While asthma cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed with the right treatment. Inhalers are the most common form of medication for asthma, delivering medication directly to the lungs to reduce inflammation and open up the airways. Additionally, there are medications available that can prevent symptoms and minimize airway inflammation.
Dr. Shabanah advises individuals with asthma to work closely with their healthcare providers in developing personalized asthma management plans. These plans may include medication, monitoring of symptoms, and self-care strategies. With proper treatment and management, the majority of people with asthma can lead normal and active lives.
It is important to raise awareness about the realities of asthma and dispel misconceptions to ensure that individuals receive appropriate care and support in managing their condition effectively.