INTERVIEW - World Asthma Day: Shedding light on severe chest inflammation

Ingy Deif, Wednesday 5 May 2021

Ahram Online marks World Asthma day by talking to a leading expert in Egypt, Dr. Adel Khattab

Adel Khattab
Dr. Adel Khattab

Comes in May, and the word is chest diseases among the science community, as World Asthma Day is celebrated each year on 5 May to raise awareness of asthma worldwide.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), asthma is globally recognised as of major public health importance.

Understandably, the problem escalated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Adel Khattab, professor of Chest Diseases at Ain Shams University and a member of the Supreme Committee for Viruses, tells Ahram Online more about the threat of severe uncontrolled asthma — type 2 inflammation.

“It comes in the summer season, when air pollution increases along with the high temperature and humidity and the spread of dust, all of which lead to provoking severe uncontrolled asthma attacks in some patients.

“During these attacks, the airways become swollen and inflamed, and the muscles around the airways contract, causing a narrowing of the bronchi,” Khattab says.

Khattab lists the symptoms associated with the seizure as follows:

  • Severe shortness of breath.
  • Chest contractions or pain.
  • Sleep disturbance due to shortness of breath.
  • A whistling sound when breathing in or exhaling.
  • Frequent cough accompanied by a runny nose and sneezing, especially when infected with a viral infection in the respiratory system.

Khattab elaborates more on the statistics that emphasises the extent of the problem globally.

“Asthma is a global health problem that affects about 350 million people around the world.

Global statistics indicate that more than 50 percent of asthma patients suffer from severe uncontrolled asthma.”

In Egypt, WHO estimates that 8.2 percent of children 2-12 years old suffer from Ashma. Another study in 2018 by Dr. Hisham Taaraf estimated that  6.7percent of the population suffers from Athma.

“As for local statistics, although they are few, they indicate that the percentage of lack of control in asthma in the region may exceed 41 percent for asthma patients,” he adds.

Khattab says that the effects of severe uncontrolled asthma reach far beyond its health effects, and gives the following examples:

“40 percent of people with severe uncontrolled asthma report that it limits their activities. 55 percent confirmed that severe uncontrolled asthma had a negative effect on their relationships with their spouses and friends. 54 percent of people with severe uncontrolled asthma said they had depression,” he says.

According to the WHO, severe uncontrolled asthma is defined as a chronic disease of the airways of the lungs resulting from inflammation and narrowing of the respiratory passages, which blocks the flow of air into the airways, leading to spasms of shortness of breath and wheezing in the chest, accompanied by coughing after exposure to inhalation of substances that provoke allergic reactions or irritation of the respiratory system.

These attacks vary in severity and frequency from one person to another, and it is one of the most common diseases among children.

They often come at an early age, specifically in childhood, where the first appearance of symptoms is at the age of five years.

“The treatments available now do not give a complete cure for asthma, but rather offer control like many other diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and others.”

Khattab added that despite the availability of multiple treatments, severe uncontrolled asthma still has a major impact on the personal and professional lives of the patients and their caregivers.

“People with severe uncontrolled asthma, despite taking the appropriate treatments for each condition, still have breathing difficulties and an exacerbation of severe asthma. It includes treatments by means of sprays and treatments taken by mouth or injection that extend their effect to the general state of inflammation present in the body with the aim of achieving control of the disease,” Khattab explains.

“And last but not least, this daily burden of unpredictability of disease symptoms greatly affects the quality of life of patients with chronic asthma and all aspects of their social life, whether at work, university or school.”

“Therefore, the patient must abide by the treatment course until there is considerable control. If this happens, the asthma patient can live a better, normal, life like any other person,” he concludes.

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