President of the Nigerian Society of Asthmatics, University College Hospital (UCH) Branch, Professor Olusoji Ige says over 100,000 Nigerians have asthma disease and about 75 per cent of them risk dying from the disease due to poor asthma control.
Ige, a chest physician who spoke at a rally to commemorate World Asthma Day with the theme “Asthma Care for All” at the Bodija market, Ibadan said asthma, a condition involving the airway may cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, and cough and wheezing, and when poorly controlled could become deadly and result to death unexpectedly.
According to him, poor control of asthma symptoms in Nigeria mostly occurs when many people cannot assess the severity of their symptoms very well and many people don’t use their inhalers appropriately while deaths occur when they don’t use appropriate inhalers when an asthma attack happens.
“Many asthma patients hesitate to use inhalers, rather they want to use the asthma medications in tablet or injection forms. Inhalers are the best available medicines for it because the drugs go directly to the windpipe where the problem actually is.
“Inhalation corticosteroid is the key cornerstone for the management of asthma; many people still take tablets and that is why their asthma is not properly controlled. Some don’t know the appropriate drug to use. Some also take herbal concoctions and herbs believing that it is going to cure them.
“Asthma is not curable but it is treatable. With good asthma control, there wouldn’t be nighttime or early morning asthma symptoms and they wouldn’t be limited in doing any activity including sports. There wouldn’t be any exacerbation of asthma symptoms or visit to emergency units of hospital or admission for asthma,” he added.
Mrs Grace Adekoya, a deputy director of Nursing and one of the coordinators of the Asthmatic Support Group at the UCH, Ibadan, speaking to the market men and women, said the use of asthma drugs in the tablet form is being discouraged because, over time, they could suffer from hypertension, diabetes and even kidney or heart failure.
“It is the same medicine given to the patient, just that the drugs are powdered and put inside an inhaler. If oral medication is taken, the drug gets absorbed into the body and reaches other organs, which can have more side effects. In the case of inhalation therapy, there is no major side effect, rather it works effectively,” she added.
Mrs Adekoya declared that many things including dust, fumes, animal danders, strong perfumes or odours, cockroach droppings and even freshly cut grass, fumes from heating oil can trigger asthmatic attacks and it is important for individuals to learn their triggers and avoid such things.
She said asthmatics should always carry their rescue inhalers at all times because they cannot predict when they may have an attack and will require it for their treatment.
“Once an asthmatic attack starts within 5 minutes, if an individual is not rescued by using it, the person can die.”
Mrs Adekoya asked that people stop stigmatising people that have inhalers or individuals with asthma attacks.