As part of the celebration of World Asthma Day, GSK Philippines launched “ASTHMAlaya Ka Ba Talaga?” campaign, a disease awareness initiative that also seeks to encourage asthma patients to be more proactive in consulting their doctors on how to achieve asthma control. The campaign is an annual event organized by the “Global Initiative for Asthma” (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of airways. Common symptoms include constant wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing often late at night or early in the morning. The illness can be triggered by dust, changes in weather (often cold), animals (pet hair in particular), exercise, tobacco smoke and stress.
According to Dr. Gio Barangan, GSK’s medical director, “With proper consultation, the management of asthma is reachable. Asthma patients should collaborate with their doctors regarding asthma action plan.”
If the cause of asthma is still unknown up to these days, there is still no cure for it too. However, Dr. Carmela Kasala, president of the Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Inc. (PSSAI), shared that this disease can be controlled and effectively treated.
“By establishing a strong partnership between a patient and his doctor, results showed that asthma can be controlled,” Kasala said.
A Global Asthma Report revealed that an estimated 300-million people worldwide are suffering from asthma. Of these, approximately 11-million Filipino are affected by this disease where an alarming 98% of patients remain uncontrolled or only partly controlled.
“This means that asthma patients will only use medication when they have attacks believing that as long as there are no attacks they will be okay. As such, they believe that it is enough that they have available medicines to be taken on an as-needed basis,” said Dr. Sylvia Yang, World Asthma Day Committee Chair of Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP).
An asthma patient needs an asthma control if he experiences daytime asthma symptoms such as coughing and wheezing more than twice a week, wakes up at night due to asthma, uses an asthma reliever more than twice a week or has any activity limitations due to asthma. This asthma patient may have uncontrolled asthma and must consult his doctor immediately.
As there’s still no known cure for the disease, Dr. Melvin Pasay, a pulmonologist and medical affairs manager at GSK, observes that a lot of asthma patients have resigned and became ‘prisoners’ to their condition.
“Many seem to have created imaginary cages and locking themselves up with lifestyle restrictions. They are assuming that frequent symptoms, exacerbations and lifestyle limitations are inevitable consequences of having asthma – unaware that their condition can be controlled,” said Pasay.
Another study conducted about the disease showed that activity limitation caused by asthma has been quite prevalent in the Asia Pacific, including the Philippines. It was reported that normal physical activity was compromised for 44.7% of respondents while 37.9% believed their choice of job or career was limited. While 52.7% said that sports and recreation were affected, 37.6% believed their lifestyle was restricted and 50% reported sleep disturbances.