Asthma is a major non-communicable disease that affects both children and adults worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 262 million people were affected by asthma in 2019, causing approximately 455,000 deaths.
The WHO also notes that asthma is the most common chronic disease among children. With these alarming statistics in mind, Specialist Paediatrician Dr Eugene Govere from Mediclinic Newcastle recently gave insight into this health issue which affects several children within the community.
“Asthma is the most common chronic illness among children and causes a lot of mortality cases and morbidity issues, especially in middle to low-income countries,” said Dr Govere.
Furthermore, Dr Govere has noted numerous children in the Newcastle community who have asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing when exhaling and sometimes when inhaling, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and chest tightness. He added that asthma can be triggered by various factors, including weather changes, cold weather conditions, dust, exercise, chest infections, grass, and pets. However, he stressed that asthma could also be triggered by children who are not active and highlighted that it is essential to check one’s family history as asthma could be hereditary.
Asthma can be potentially fatal if not treated accordingly, and Dr Govere emphasised that it is crucial for parents to take their children to a doctor if they show any symptoms linked to asthma. Once an assessment is done, treatment can begin to control the disease.
According to Dr Govere, there are two main types of inhalers to treat asthma: bronchodilators that open the air passages and relieve symptoms, and steroids that reduce inflammation in the air passages, which in turn improves asthma symptoms and reduces the risk of severe asthma attacks and death.
However, when treating asthma, it is important to look at the other symptoms around the asthma condition, such as allergies and skin conditions like eczema. By addressing these symptoms and their respective triggers, Dr Govere highlighted that it would be easier to manage asthma.
In case of an asthma attack, Dr Govere stressed the importance of getting the child to a hospital as fast as possible, where doctors can assist the child immediately.
Additionally, Dr Govere also pointed out certain misconceptions surrounding asthma, such as the belief that it is infectious and can be spread at school, which is not true. Some parents also fear their children using inhalers, thinking they are dangerous or too young to use them, which is also a misconception that could lead to fatal implications for children.
With this in mind, Dr Govere and Mediclinic Newcastle encourage parents to have their children checked for asthma as soon as possible. It could save their lives.
If you have any concerns or questions, Dr Eugene Govere’s rooms can be contacted at 034 312 8330 for an appointment.
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