Monday, January 23, 2006


Know your Lungs.
Today I took classes for the 1st year Nursing students. The topic was on ‘Asthma’. Asthma is considered as a stigma in India. More people deny that they have asthma. My friend’s daughter, a teenager was very scared to tell her teacher that she suffers from asthma. She never used to show her medicines or the inhaler to her class mates. When she has problem all what she does is that she goes to the rest room and have her puff which is as bad as anything. People prefer to take their own medication rather than consulting the right doctor. We should understand that it is not a disease or a social stigma. There is nothing to be ashamed of. All that we need to do is to have our regular medicines and to avoid the allergens that come into contact with the body.
In asthma, the person’s lung is sensitive to certain substances. It could be dust, pollen, yeast, eggs, fish, water, some fruits and vegetables. These allergens make the bronchi sensitive and as a result there is secretion of a thin fluid initially and later on to a thick mucus. The airway gets narrowed. The patient has air hunger and wheezing. Cough is also present. There is a considerable reduction in the air flow and the lungs are not ventilated properly.
To manage asthma we need to understand a few factors. First we have to identify the allergen that stimulates the bronchus. Then we have to relieve the narrowing of the tube (bronchus). It will be more sensible for the patient to keep away from those that cause allergy.(like that of a fur of a cat or a cigarette smoke). The drug that is mostly used is the salbutamol. There are so many drug companies that manufacture this drug. In a condition called as the ‘status asthmaticus’ the patient is put on steroids. One should never allow himself to reach this point. However the attacks are paroxysmal in nature. The advent of the use of inhalers has greatly increased the comfort of the patients. The concentration of the drug in such inhalers is too small to cause any ill effects. Learning the proper technique of these inhalers is vital to ensure that one gets the needed amount of drug into the system. Salbutamol alone or the combination of salbutamol with steroids is available now. They relieve the spasm of the bronchi, widen them, and there by help in breathing.
It is not difficult to mange asthma at all. We just have to understand the problem lying behind it, and use the inhalers at the appropriate time. Don’t complicate your asthma by not taking your regular reliever puffs. Manage your asthma at the right time so that you don’t land up in difficulty.

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