Updated 02 October 2014

Don't let asthma control you

Asthma is on the increase, especially among young children. The good news is that asthma can be effectively treated.


Asthma is on the increase, especially among young children. In fact, asthma is now one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide. The good news, however, is that asthma can be effectively treated. By adopting a good treatment strategy, most people who have asthma can achieve good control of the disease.

New management guidelines
The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) has recently updated their asthma management guidelines. These define, in a stepwise approach, the pharmacologic treatment recommended to achieve and maintain control of asthma.

The GINA Guidelines takes into account the safety of treatment, potential for adverse effects, and the cost of treatment required to achieve control.

The National Asthma Education Programme (NAEP) urges patients and caregivers of asthmatics to learn about and understand the basic treatment requirements in their pursuit to becoming partners in the management of asthma. The NAEP further urges all doctors to familiarise themselves with the new GINA Guidelines and to implement these when treating asthma.

When is asthma well-controlled?
Asthma is regarded as under control when:

  • troublesome symptoms can be avoided during the night and day;
  • little or no reliever medication is required;
  • asthmatics are able to have productive, physically active lives;
  • asthmatics have (near) normal lung function;
  • serious asthma attacks can be avoided.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. As the airways are chronically inflamed, they become hyperresponsive and obstructed and airflow is limited by bronchoconstriction, mucus plugs and increased inflammation. The condition causes recurring episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing, particularly at night or in the early morning.

Common risk factors for asthma symptoms include exposure to allergens - such as house dust mites, animals with fur, cockroaches, pollens, and molds - occupational irritants, tobacco smoke, viral respiratory infections such as influenza, exercise, strong emotional expressions, chemical irritants, and certain drugs and medications such as aspirin and beta blockers.

- Issued on behalf of NAEP by Oz Healthcare Communications.

Updated: May 2009


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Professor Keertan Dheda has received of several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others.Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute

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