Study finds one-third of asthmatics experiencing serious symptoms
The Asthma Society of Canada has released a study that shows a startling number of asthmatics settling for a diminished quality of life because of poor management of their disease. One-third of the 1,000 adult asthmatics surveyed this past spring for “The Asthma Action Study” reported having serious symptoms on a daily basis. Forty-one per cent agreed that asthma was having a great negative impact on their ability to work or go to school.
The findings in Canadian children are no better. According to the 1,008 parents of asthmatic children surveyed, “17 per cent of children with asthma in Canada in the past year have had some form of emergency or urgent care,” said Dr. Mark Greenwald, chair of the society’s scientific and medical advisory committee. “That means more than 20,000 families have had to visit the emergency room, and of those, 12,000 children were hospitalized.”
Forty per cent of asthmatic children missed school during the past 12 months. In addition, 28 per cent of homes with an asthmatic child had a smoker in the family, and the study found such children far more likely to need urgent care. “They have twice as many issues in terms of hospitalization and reduced exercise and quality of life issues,” Greenwald noted.
The study has prompted the Asthma Society to draft six suggestions to improve treatment:
- Breathing tests must be performed routinely for diagnosis and to monitor treatment;
- Patients must be referred to specialists more often;
- An action plan should be drafted for each patient;
- Patient-doctor communication must improve;
- Proper use of medications and inhaler technique should be regularly addressed;
- And resources and counselling must be available, such as the services provided by the Asthma Society. Greenwald advises patients: “You’ve got to demand more. Don’t settle for less than you should.” – Dory Cerny
Published in Allergic Living magazine, Summer 2005
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