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World Asthma Day 2021: What Is Severe Asthma? Expert Elaborates

World Asthma Day 2021: This day tries to create awareness about asthma. The theme for the World Asthma Day 2021 is 'Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions.' Read here as expert explains about severe asthma.

World Asthma Day 2021: What Is Severe Asthma? Expert Elaborates

World Asthma Day 2021: This day is observed on first Tuesday of May each year


  1. World Asthma Day is observed each year on first Tuesday of May
  2. Asthma leads to severe cough, chest tightness and trouble sleeping
  3. 'Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions' is the theme for this year

Asthma, one of the most widespread diseases, continues to be on the rise due to poor lifestyle, increasing pollution and unhealthy dietary habits. As per the World Health Organisation, approximately 15 to 20 million population of India suffer from asthma, that include patients from every age group. Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease which means it doesn't completely go away once a person develops it. When a person has asthma, they face difficulty in breathing as the bronchi or tubes carrying air to the lungs swell up. This happens due to the mucus inside bronchi coming into contact with an allergen, like dirt or a pollutant. Alarmingly, around 1.6 lakh asthma patients suffer from drug-resisting asthma, a stage described as 'severe asthma'. Some of the prominent causes of severe asthma include respiratory infections, smoke from tobacco, severe physical or emotional stress and environmental triggers. Therefore, patients suffering from severe asthma experience recurrent attacks and require frequent hospital visits.

Controlling Asthma Symptoms: Treating the Disease Based on Severity

The treatment of asthma majorly includes identifying the triggers of the patients, recognizing and managing their symptoms, and laying an action plan that can control a flare-up. Medications such as beta-agonists and combination inhalers are used to control inconsistent response of an allergen and reduce severe exacerbations giving patients a better quality of life. If one has an asthma flare-up, a quick-relief inhaler can come to the rescue by easing the symptoms instantly. For patients who do not respond to these medications or inhalers and have severe asthma, advanced technologies treatments such as Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) help to reduce asthmatic attacks. It is a minimally invasive procedure that can only be carried on patients who are already on oral steroids for asthma exacerbations, the ones who use inhalers more than twice a week and the ones who have physical activity limitations due to asthma.

Also read: World Asthma Day 2021: 3 Common Myths About Asthma You Should Stop Believing


World Asthma Day 2021: Asthma leads to symptoms like cough, shortness of breath and chest tightness
Photo Credit: iStock

The therapy includes a process in which a thin catheter is pushed to the end of the airway that gives controlled radiofrequency energy to airway smooth muscles. This is designed to reduce the amount of airway muscle while broadening the airways.

Also read: Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Prevent Asthma? Study Reveals The Link

It is of utmost importance to understand the right management of the disease. Improper adherence to medication and treatment leads to poor asthma control, disease progression, and emergency hospital visits. Other factors such as smoking, rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, viral infections of the respiratory tract, and sleep disturbances also contribute to the poor control of asthma. Therefore, timely intervention is recommended to treat severe asthma as a delay in the treatment may damage one's airways permanently leading to a disability.

(Dr. Narsimhan R, Physician Designation: MBBS, DTDC, MD, Pulmonology/Respiratory Medicine, Apollo Hospital Greams Road, Chennai)

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