Asthma and WHO’s role

Today is world asthma day, the 7th of May. When diplomats met to form the United Nations (UN) in 1945, one of the things they discussed was setting up a global health organization: World Health Organization (WHO). WHO’s Constitution came into force on 7th April 1948 – a date celebrated every year as World Health Day. Understanding the history of health, especially during the last 60 years, helps the global public health community to respond to the challenges of today to shape a healthier future for everyone.

WHO recognizes that asthma is of major public health importance. According to WHO estimates, 235 million people suffer from asthma globally. Although asthma cannot be cured, appropriate management can control the disorder. The fundamental causes of asthma are not completely understood. The strongest risk factors for developing asthma are a combination of genetic predisposition with environmental exposure.

Asthma is a chronic breathing disorder characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing. An asthma attack can be triggered by various inhaled agents including:

  • indoor allergens (for example house dust mites in bedding, carpets and stuffed furniture, pollution and pet dander);
  • outdoor allergens (such as pollens and moulds);
  • tobacco smoke; and
  • chemical irritants in the workplace

Other triggers can include cold air, extreme emotional arousal such as anger or fear, and physical exercise.

Management of asthma. Although asthma cannot be cured, appropriate management can control the disease and enable people to enjoy good quality of life. Daily pharmacologic treatment includes the use of inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting bronchodilators (beta-agonists and anticholinergics), theophylline and leukotriene modifiers. It should be noted that a strong, healthy body is one of your best defenses against disease.

Interestingly, exercice can induce asthma (bronchoconstriction) with symptoms such as coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath. However, a proper warm up before exercise, and also to take medicine before prevents exercise-induced asthma.

To summerize, asthma is common and can be controlled by pharmacological treatment and also to learn what triggers astma attacks. I hope you have learnt some about astma on this day of recognition. Sharing a picture I found on WHO´s website. I will write more about allergy later since it really is a lot of pollen in the air right now.

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