Monday, April 04, 2005

What is asthma?

• Asthma sufferers have hyper-responsive airways. When irritated, these airways can narrow and obstruct breathing, resulting in asthma symptoms such as :

- Wheezing

- Coughing

- Shortness of breath

- Chest tightness

• Canada has one of the highest incidences of asthma in the world. This chronic lung disease affects an estimated three million Canadians.

• Close to six in 10 Canadians with asthma do not have control of their disease and are leading a life compromised by their symptoms.

• Asthma is the number one cause of emergency room visits in Canada, accounting for nearly 150,000 visits each year.

• In Canada, more than 500 people die each year from asthma.

• It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of asthma deaths could be prevented with proper asthma education.

• Education plays an important role in asthma treatment because non-compliance with asthma medications is common. Often, patients rely solely on their rescue medication (blue "puffers") for instant relief of symptoms without treating the underlying cause of the disease, resulting in poor asthma control.

• For many patients, controller medication must be taken every day and maintained at the correct dose to control symptoms, improve lung function and prevent future attacks.

• Despite advances in understanding of the disease and the availability of more effective treatments, asthma still places a heavy burden on the quality of life of those suffering from it.

• If you or a family member has asthma, speak to your doctor. Asthma does not have to control your life. Take the 30-second asthma test to see if your asthma is under control ( and speak to your doctor about the treatment option that is right for you.

- News Canada