Updated 12 July 2016

Asthmatics can lead normal lives

About 10% of people suffer from asthma – and prevalence rates are increasing by the day. Read this message by Dr Robin Green if you or a loved one are affected by asthma.


Asthma affects about 10% of people – and prevalence rates are increasing by the day.

The condition usually causes symptoms over a prolonged period, but once you are diagnosed with asthma and get treatment it should no longer alter your quality of life. Troublesome asthma can be well controlled.

But there is no magical cure.

Complete control is possible
It takes time and effort to learn about asthma and to look after yourself. In fact, most guidelines for the treatment of asthma highlight effective control of asthma as the most important goal, striving to ensure that the asthmatic is able to lead a normal and physically active life.

Asthma cannot be completely cured, no matter what anyone says, but with the right treatment most asthmatics will lead completely normal lives.

The aim of treatment should be to make the lungs and breathing tubes as normal as possible in order to decrease symptoms. Many South African asthmatics have difficulty sleeping, are absent from school or work and frequently end up in hospital. This is not acceptable.

Important steps
The following points will allow you to gain control over your condition:

  • Take medication as prescribed. Know and understand your treatment and know how to use the medication/devices you are given.
  • Have and use an asthma action plan for ongoing assessment of your symptoms.
  • Keep in touch with your doctor. There is a template on this website you can download to guide you in the type of questions to ask your doctor and aid in building a trusting relationship with your doctor.

As asthma is a chronic condition, you need to see your doctor regularly – not just when the symptoms get really bad. This allows your doctor to know what is achievable in terms of asthma treatment and sort out a plan of action that suits you.

Be sure to ask questions that are bothering you. Your asthma control requires this partnership between you and your doctor.

Lastly, it is important to know where you can get further help and information. Your doctor will help you in this regard but this website will give you an important start.

Remember that ultimately you control your own health and can empower yourself to go further and achieve more. - (Dr Robin J Green)

More information:

National Asthma Education Programme (NAEP)
Allergy Society of South Africa (ALLSA)


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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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