Thursday, September 24, 2009

பன்றிக் காய்ச்ச‌ல் - அறிமுக‌ம்

Swine flu
What do you need to know about Swine flu
A never-before-seen strain of swine flu has turned killer in Mexico and is causing milder illness in the United States and elsewhere. While authorities say it’s not time to panic, they are taking steps to stem the spread and also urging people to pay close attention to the latest health warnings and take their own precautions.
“Individuals have a key role to play,” Dr. Richard Besser, acting chief of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.
Here’s what you need to know:
Q: How do I protect myself and family?
A: For now, take common sense precautions. Cover your coughs and sneezes, with a tissue that you throw away or by sneezing into your elbow rather than your hand. Wash hands frequently; if soap and water aren’t available, hand gels can substitute. Stay home if you’re sick and keep children home from school if they are.
Q: How easy is it to catch this virus?
A: Scientists don’t yet know if it takes fairly close or prolonged contact with someone who’s sick, or if it’s more easily spread. But in general, flu viruses spread through uncovered coughs and sneezes or-and this is important-by touching your mouth or nose with unwashed hands. Flu viruses can live on surfaces for several hours, like a doorknob just touched by someone who sneezed into his hand.
Q: In Mexico, officials are handing out face masks. Do I need one?
A: the CDC says there’s not good evidence that masks really help outside of healthcare settings. It’s safer just to avoid close contact with someone who’s sick and avoid crowded gatherings in places where swine flu is know to be spreading. But if you can’t do that, CDC guidelines say it’s OK to consider a mask, just don’t let it substitute for good precautions.
Q: Is swine flu treatable?
A: Yes with the flu drugs Tamiflu or Relenza, but not with two older flu medications.
Q: Is there enough
A: Yes
Q: Should I take Tamiflu as a precaution if I’m not sick yet?
A: No
Q: how big is my risk?
A:For most people, very low. Outside of Mexico, so far clusters of illnesses seem related to Mexican travel. New York City’s cluster, for instance, consists of students and family members at one school where some students came back ill from spring break in Mexico.
Q: Why are people dying in Mexico and not here?
A: That’s a mystery. First understand that no one really knows just how many people in Mexico are dying of this flu strains, or how many have it. Only a fraction of the suspected deaths have been tested and confirmed as swine flu, and some initially suspected cases were caused by something else.
Q: Should I cancel planned trip to Mexico?
A: The US did issue a travel advisory Monday discouraging nonessential travel there.
Q: What are the symptoms?
A: They’re similar to regular human flu – a fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also have diarrhea and vomiting.
Q: How do I know if I should see a doctor? Maybe my symptoms are from something else like pollen?
A: health authorities say if you live in place where swine flu cases have been confirmed, or you recently travelled to Mexico, and you have flulike symptoms, ask your doctor if you need treatment or to tested. Allergies won’t cause a fever, and run-on-the-mill stomach bugs won’t be accompanied by respiratory symptoms, notes Dr. Wayne Reynolds of Newport News, Va., spokesman for the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Q: Is there a vaccine to prevent this new infection?
A: No. And CDC’s initial testing suggests that last winter flu shot didn’t offer any cross-protection.
Q: How long would it take to produce a Vaccine?
A: A few months. T
Q: What is swine flu?
A: Pigs spread their own stains of influenza and every so often people catch one, usually after contacts with the animals. This new strain is a mix of pig viruses with some human and bird viruses. Unlike more typical swine flu, it is spreading person-to-person. A 1976 outbreak of another unusual swine flu at Fort Dix, New Jersey, prompted a problematic mass vaccination campaign, but that time the flu fizzled out.
Q: And whatever happened to bird flu? Wasn’t that supposed to be the next pandemic?
A: specialists have long warned that the issue is a never before seen stain that people have little if any natural immunity to, regardless of whether it seems to originate from a bird or a pig. Bird flu hasn’t gone away; scientists are tracking it too.
Fight AH1N1 virus by signing ‘Happy Birthday’… twice
Your voice does not exactly fight the virus, but singing Happy Birthday at least twice while washing you hands can. Experts recommend that often and proper hand washing can prevent you from contracting viral infections, or spreading them when you have it. Follow these simple steps to fight against AH1N1 virus.And while you’re at it, you can practice singing ‘Happy Birthday.’ Proper hand washingThe entire process should be between 40 to 60 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand rubs when water is not available. Spread this email to your friends. Print the attached image and teach your family the best defence against any virus.
Practical tips to keep swine flu at bay during RamadanFasting during the Holy month of Ramadan cleanses our body. However, it also lowers our system, making us more susceptible to infections and sickness. What can I do to protect myself from catching H1N1 influenza virus?The main route of transmission of the new virus seems to be similar to seasonal influenza, via droplets that are expelled by speaking, sneezing or coughing. You can prevent getting infected by avoiding close contact with people who show influenza-like symptoms (trying to maintain a distance of about 1 metre if possible) and taking the following measures
• Maintain good basic hygiene, for example, washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to your face or other people• Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and use a tissue when possible • Dispose of dirty tissues promptly and carefully• Avoid touching your mouth and nose• Clean hard surfaces (eg door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product • Reduce the time spent in crowded settings if possible• Practice good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food, and keeping physically active.
If you do have flu-like symptoms, follow these simple advices:
• Stay off work or school and minimise contact with other people. • While it’s tradition to buss friends and family (kissing on both cheeks), avoid doing so to avoid getting infected or infecting your loved ones.• Drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration. • Take over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen to help with symptoms. • Inform family and friends about your illness and try to avoid contact with other people For more information about AH1N1 influenza virus and how to protect yourself and your loved ones, call our Doctor on Phone toll-free helpline: 800 440 4040
Swine flu and you child at school
One of the main battlegrounds in the fight against an expected resurgence of swine flu this fall will be the schoolyard, a place where the disease could, well, go viral. People between 6 months and 24 years old appear to be particularly vulnerable to the swine flu virus, known as H1N1. And there are several reasons to think that schools could be hotbeds of infection:
Large groups of children and young adults? Check. In close proximity? Check. Lax sanitary standards? Check.
Teach your child to avoid contacting the virus while at schoolFrequent washing of hands - It is recommended that hands be washed every 2 hours especially if exposed to surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks where viruses and bacteria can live from 20 minutes up to 2 hours or more. Wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after they cough or sneeze. If water is not near, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner. You child needs to get plenty of sleep and physical activity, drink water, and eat good food to help them stay healthy. A healthy child has better immune system to fight of viruses and bacterias.Teach them to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze—and have them throw the tissue away after they use it. Remind them to not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way.

நன்றி:bupa middle ஈஸ்ட்.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

உங்கள் குழந்தைக்கு ஆஸ்துமாவா?

வீட்டில் சுற்றித் திரியும் எலிகள், கரப்பான் பூச்சிகளால் பிஞ்சுக் குழந்தைகளுக்கு ஆஸ்துமா, அலர்ஜி போன்றவை ஏற்படும் ஆபத்து இருப்பதாக மருத்துவ ஆய்வு ஒன்று தெரிவிக்கிறது.

இது தொடர்பான ஆய்வு ஒன்றை கொலம்பியாவில் உள்ள குழந்தைகள் சுற்றுப்புறச் சூழல் சுகாதார மையத்தைச் சேர்ந்த ஆராய்ச்சியாளர்கள் மேற்கொண்டனர்.

இதில், வீசிங் எனப்படும் மூச்சுத் திணறல், காய்ச்சல், எக்ஸிமா எனப்படும் ஒவ்வாமை போன்றவை 3 வயதுக்கும் குறைவான குழந்தைகளுக்கு ஏற்பட, கரப்பான் பூச்சிகளும், எலிகளும் தான் காரணம் எனத் தெரிய வந்துள்ளது. அவற்றின் மூலம் வெளிப்படும் ஒருவகை புரோட்டீன் இத்தகைய நோய்கள் பரவக் காரணமாக அமைவதாக, ஆராய்ச்சியாளர்கள் கூறினர்.

வீட்டிற்குள் உருவாகும் ஒவ்வாமையில் கரப்பான் பூச்சிகளும், எலிகளும் முக்கியப் பங்கு வகிப்பது தங்கள் ஆய்வில் புலப்பட்டதாக, அந்த ஆராய்ச்சியாளர்கள் மேலும் தெரிவித்தனர்.


Monday, November 17, 2008


Diabetes mellitus is a long-term condition where the body is not able to control the amount of glucose in the blood. It develops when there is an insufficient amount of the natural hormone insulin. If untreated, the symptoms include excessive thirst, lots of trips to the toilet to pass urine and weight loss. Poorly controlled blood sugar can also be a major threat to health, including increased risk of heart disease and strokes, nerve damage and blindness.
Glucose and insulin
Glucose, a simple form of sugar, enters the blood from the intestines, where it is absorbed from food and sugary drink as a natural part of digestion. It is also produced by the liver, which acts as a store of energy.
One of the many functions of the blood is to carry glucose around the body. When it reaches the various body tissues, such as the muscle cells, it is converted into energy. The precise concentration of glucose in the blood is automatically regulated. Crucial to this is the hormone insulin, which is secreted into the blood by the pancreas – a gland found behind the stomach.
Insulin is required for the conversion of glucose into energy. With the digestive system and liver working normally, a shortage of insulin causes glucose to build up in the blood, leading to the symptoms of diabetes.
There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin- dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). It can develop at any age, although it usually develops in children and young adults and is also referred to as juvenile onset diabetes. The affected person does not produce any of their own insulin and needs to take it by injection every day. Once it has developed, it is a life-long disease.
Type 2 diabetes occurs later in life and is sometimes known as late-onset diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes (NIDDM). Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2.
Diabetes (type 1)
The cause
Type 1 diabetes is caused by the destruction of insulin-producing cells called the islets of Langerhans within the pancreas. The destruction of these cells is thought to be caused by the body’s own immune system. Consequently, diabetes is known as an autoimmune disorder.
Type 1 diabetes takes only a few weeks to develop. The initial symptoms are:
•increased production of urine (because the body tries to get rid of the excess glucose in the urine, diluting it with water), •excessive thirst, •fatigue (because the glucose is not being converted into energy), •loss of weight, •increased appetite, •feeling sick, •blurred vision, •infections such as thrush or irritation of the genitals. •If type 1 diabetes is not treated at this stage, the body begins to produce chemicals called ketones that build up in the blood. This condition – diabetic ketoacidosis – causes additional symptoms:
vomiting, stomach pain, rapid breathing, increased pulse rate,sleepiness.
Without treatment, diabetic ketoacidosis can lead to coma or death.
Type 1 diabetes can be detected with a blood test to measure the level of glucose in the blood. It may be necessary to fast for eight hours before the blood sample is taken.
Type 1 diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be controlled by insulin injections. Insulin cannot be taken in tablet form because it is destroyed by the acids in the stomach. Insulin injections are usually self-administered into the skin of the abdomen two or four times a day, using either a traditional hypodermic needle or a "pen" type syringe with refillable cartridges. There are different kinds of insulin that work at different rates and act for different lengths of time.
Controlling blood sugar
Carefully controlling blood sugar is the key to maintaining good health. Hypoglycaemia, blood glucose that is too low, and hyperglycaemia, blood sugar that is too high, are the result of poor control.
An inadequate amount of blood glucose – from either not eating enough or from taking too much insulin – results in hypoglycaemia. This can cause symptoms of faintness, sweating and a pounding heart, and if not treated by eating or drinking something sugary, can lead to collapse and coma. People with diabetes will probably experience a "hypo", or near-hypo, from time to time, and tend to make sure they always have some sugary food or glucose tablets at close hand to control it.
A high level of glucose in the blood is harmful. Even if the symptoms are not immediately severe (see symptoms, above), uncontrolled high blood sugar can over time lead to a number of complications including irreversible damage to the eyes, kidneys and nerves. Uncontrolled diabetes also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke and, because it damages the circulation, it can lead to foot ulcers, gangrene and limb amputation.
Monitoring blood sugar
People with diabetes regularly use a blood sugar monitor. This involves taking a pin-prick of blood and analysing it with either colour-coded strips of paper (which give a blood sugar reading based on the colour they turn) or an electronic monitor. Diet and insulin can be adjusted to keep the level within the normal range.
A healthy lifestyle
In addition to controlling blood sugar, lifestyle is a key part of ensuring diabetes has the minimum impact on health.
A healthy diet is essential. This is the same as the normal, balanced diet recommended for good health – low in fat, sugar and salt; high in fibre, vegetables and fruit. Special diabetic foods are not necessary, but it’s important to eat regularly and keep weight under control.
Physical activity, which promotes a healthy circulation and helps to maintain a healthy weight, is recommended. Many successful sports people have diabetes: well-controlled diabetes need not prevent an active life.
Smoking damages the circulation and, like diabetes, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is extremely important for smokers with diabetes to stop smoking.
Diabetes (type 2)
Diabetes mellitus is a long-term condition where the body is unable to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood properly. It results when the body no longer responds adequately to the natural hormone insulin, or when production of insulin is too low.
Type 2 diabetes usually has no symptoms, but in the long term it can lead to excessive thirst, frequent trips to the toilet to pass urine and weight loss.
Type 2 diabetes can usually be controlled with diet, exercise or medicines, but if poorly controlled, it increases the risk of heart disease and strokes, nerve damage and blindness.
Glucose and insulin
Glucose, a simple form of sugar, enters the blood from the intestines, where it is absorbed from food and sugary drink as a natural part of digestion. It is also produced by the liver, which acts as a store of energy.
One of the many functions of the blood is to carry glucose around the body. When it reaches the various body tissues, such as the muscle cells, it is converted into energy. The precise concentration of glucose in the blood is automatically regulated. Crucial to this is the hormone insulin, which is secreted into the blood by the pancreas - a gland found behind the stomach.
Insulin is required for the conversion of glucose into energy. With the digestive system and liver working normally, a shortage of insulin causes glucose to build up in the blood, leading to the symptoms of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs later in life and is sometimes known as late-onset diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), because insulin treatment is not always needed.
The cause
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body becomes resistent to insulin. This happens when the body's tissues, such as muscle, do not respond fully to the actions of insulin, so cannot make use of glucose in the blood. The pancreas responds by producing more insulin. In addition the liver, where glucose is stored, releases more glucose to try to increase the amount of glucose available.
Eventually the pancreas becomes less able to produce enough insulin and the tissues become more resistent to insulin. As a result, blood glucose levels slowly start to rise.It can take several years for the blood sugar to reach a level that causes symptoms.
Who is at risk of type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes usually develops in men or women over 40 years of age. The average age for developing the disease is 52, but this is now falling and some very overweight children are affected.People who are overweight (with a BMI over 25) and not physically active are more at risk of type 2 diabetes. In particular, people who are an "apple-shape" - with lots of fat around the abdomen - are at greater risk of developing diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes runs in families, and is particularly common among people of African-Caribbean or Asian origin.
Having high blood pressure or high cholesterol increases the risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
Up to two-thirds of people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms. If present, the most common ones are:
•increased production of urine (the body is trying to get rid of the excess glucose in the urine) •unusual thirst •tiredness (because the glucose is "going to waste" and not being converted into energy) •loss of weight •increased appetite •feeling sick •blurred vision •infections such as thrush or irritation of the genitals
Some people simply feel a bit unwell or assume they are just ageing.
High blood glucose
A high level of glucose in the blood is harmful. Even though the symptoms are not immediately severe (see symptoms, above), over time, uncontrolled high blood sugar can damage the smaller blood vessels, leading to complications including irreversible damage to the eyes and kidneys. Nerves can also be damaged, which can affect internal organs as well as the ability to feel sensations and pain. Uncontrolled diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
Doctors diagnose type 2 diabetes after listening to a description of any symptoms, doing a physical examination and doing a blood test to measure the level of blood glucose. Most people are asked to fast for eight hours before the blood sample is taken.A glucose tolerance test may be done to assess the body's ability to handle glucose. For this test, the person drinks a specific amount of glucose and the levels are measured in blood samples over a period of several hours.
Type 2 diabetes may be diagnosed during a routine medical check-up.
In many cases, type 2 diabetes can be controlled by lifestyle changes alone.Diet
A healthy diet is essential for people with type 2 diabetes. This is the same as the normal, balanced diet that's recommended for good health - low in saturated fat, sugar and salt; high in fibre, vegetables and fruit.
Carbohydrates should be spread throughout the day to prevent high blood sugar levels after a meal. Carbohydrates include starchy food such as pasta, potatoes, bread and cereals and sugary foods including fruit, sweets and biscuits.
Regular physical activity helps the body use insulin more efficiently. Half an hour of activity on most days of the week is recommended.
If lifestyle changes do not reduce glucose levels, antidiabetic tablets may be prescribed to increase the production of insulin and strengthen its effect. The standard treatments include:
•Drugs called sulphonylureas, which encourage the production of insulin from the pancreas. •A drug that improves the effectiveness of insulin by reducing the amount of glucose released from the liver and improving the way glucose is used by the muscles. This drug is called metformin and is the routine treatment for people who are overweight. It is sometimes combined with other antidiabetic medicines or insulin. •Other drugs are available and can be used in addition to the standard antidiabetic tablets, if these, plus a healthy diet and physical activity, are not controlling blood sugar levels.
Insulin injections
If lifestyle changes and medicines still do not adequately control blood glucose levels, insulin injections may have to be started in addition to, or instead of, oral treatments. Insulin injections may be temporary or for the rest of the person's life.
Insulin injections are usually self-administered two or four times a day, using either a traditional needle or a "pen" type syringe with refillable cartridges. There are different kinds of insulin that work at different rates and for different lengths of time.
Monitoring blood glucose
People with diabetes regularly monitor their blood sugar. This involves taking a pin-prick of blood and getting a blood glucose reading from colour-coded paper strips or an electric monitor.
In addition to controlling blood sugar, lifestyle is a key part of ensuring that diabetes has the minimum impact on health.
It's important to keep weight under control. Healthy diet and physical activity will help with this. Alcohol should only be consumed in moderation and with food.Smoking damages the circulation and, like diabetes, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is extremely important for smokers with diabetes to stop smoking.
நன்றி:bupa middle east

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Asthma Asthma in children
Asthma is a common condition that causes coughing, wheezing, tightness of the chest and breathlessness in about 1 in 10 children. The symptoms are caused by irritation and narrowing of the airways and are often set off by an allergy or a virus.
About half of all children who develop asthma will grow out of it, but left untreated asthma can cause permanent scarring of the airways. Very rarely, a severe asthma attack can be fatal.
Understanding asthma
When we breathe, air travels into the lungs through a series of bronchial tubes, which branch out like a tree, gradually getting smaller, until they turn into millions of tiny air bags called alveoli. From here, the oxygen in the air can be absorbed into the bloodstream and taken to the rest of the body.
In children who develop asthma, the airways become irritated and inflamed. As a result, they become narrower and produce extra mucus, making it more difficult for air to flow into and out of the lungs and causing the symptoms of asthma.
How well the lungs are working (lung function) can be measured by blowing into a device called a peak flow meter. If the airways are narrower than normal, air is exhaled at a slower rate, giving a lower reading.Peak flow readings can help diagnose asthma, and regular readings can help monitor the condition.
Urgent treatment is required if a child has severe symptoms that do not improve with the use of a reliever inhaler, or is so short of breath that he or she has difficulty talking.
It´s not as easy to tell how much difficulty babies and toddlers are having with breathing - they need urgent medical attention sooner.
Why do some children get asthma?
In children, boys are more likely to get asthma than girls and black children are more likely to get it than white children. In addition, asthma often runs in families - children can inherit the tendency to get inflamed bronchial tubes. They can also inherit the tendency to have allergies (doctors call this atopy) and this increases the risk of developing asthma. Many children who have eczema also have asthma.
Risk factors
Other factors thought to affect a child´s risk of developing asthma include: l Cigarette smoking in pregnancy - babies are more likely to be born with reduced lung function and a tendency to wheeze. l Passive smoking - children who are exposed to tobacco smoke are at greater risk of developing asthma, and of the symptoms being more severe. l Having been breastfed may reduce a child´s risk of developing asthma.
Children in developed countries are no longer exposed to the kinds of infections they would have had to deal with in the past. There is a theory (called the hygiene hypothesis) that children´s immune systems over-react to harmless substances instead.
Asthma symptoms
The symptoms of asthma may be mild, moderate or severe. They may include: l coughing l wheezing l breathlessness l tightness in the chest l difficulty breathing l disturbed sleep l tiring quickly during exercise
Sometimes, the symptoms flare up for no obvious reason, but specific triggers that set off an asthma attack or make the symptoms worse can often be identified. These triggers can include: l infections such as coughs, colds and flu l allergies - to pollen, medicines, animals, housedust mite, or certain foods l irritants such as dust, tobacco smoke and fumes l exercise - some children only ever have symptoms brought on by exercise, especially in cold, dry air l emotions - laughing or crying very hard can trigger symptoms, as can stress l sleeping - for many children, symptoms are worse at night
Any parent who thinks their child may have asthma should consult a doctor, particularly if they are waking up in the night with shortness of breath.
Diagnosing asthma in children
A GP will listen to the symptoms and carry out a physical examination. Depending on the age of the child, a peak flow meter or a machine called a spirometer may be used to check lung function (in babies and very small children this isn´t possible). Less commonly other tests, such as a chest X-rays, may be done to make sure no other breathing problems are present. An allergy skin test - to find out whether the child is allergic to certain substances - may sometimes be suggested.
Although asthma cannot be cured, with good treatment and management, most children will not need to miss out on school or an active lifestyle.Treatments aim to reduce the frequency, severity and length of asthma attacks. Because a lot of different factors are involved in asthma, each treatment plan will be individual, combining medicines and asthma management in the way that works best for each child.
These devices (sometimes called "puffers") contain a gas that propels the correct dose of medication when the top is pressed. This is inhaled into the airways. There are two basic categories of inhaler medicines:
l Relievers are used when asthma symptoms occur. They contain medicines known as bronchodilators that work to widen the airways and quickly ease the symptoms. Relievers can be short-acting or long-acting. If asthma is not well controlled using a regular steroid and occasional use of a short acting reliever, a long-acting reliever can be added to the treatment. Some doctors consider long-acting relievers to be a separate category of inhaled medicines. Reliever inhalers are usually a blue or grey colour. l Preventers are used every day - even when the child does not have symptoms - to help keep symptoms from occurring. These usually contain a steroid medicine that works to reduce the inflammation of the airways. Steroids are the most effective way of reducing inflammation in the airways and side-effects are unusual at normal doses (although they can sometimes cause a sore mouth or throat). It can take up to six weeks for the full effect of preventer medicines to build up, but once they do, the reliever inhaler may not be needed at all. Other medicines, such as sodium cromoglicate, may also be used as a preventer. Preventer inhalers are usually a brown, orange or red colour.
Inhaler techniqueTo work properly, inhalers need to be used correctly. Pressing the top and inhaling at the right time takes some co-ordination, which can be tricky. A device called a "spacer" can help. It is easier to use because it enables the child to activate the inhaler then inhale in two separate steps. Children as young as three years old can learn to use an inhaler with a spacer. And for babies and very young children, a face mask can be attached to the spacer. Using a spacer also reduces the risk of getting a sore throat from using a steroid inhaler.
Other medicines
Severe attacks of asthma are sometimes treated with a course of steroid tablets, such as prednisolone. In this case steroids are being used as relievers. Taken for about a week there are few side-effects (side-effects of steroids are usually associated with taking them for several months or at high doses).
Several other medicines are available as tablets and inhalers if the standard treatments are not suitable for an individual child (perhaps because of side-effects) or if asthma is still not adequately controlled.
A nebuliser is a device that turns a medicine into an vapour, and is used with a face mask or mouthpiece. It is used for giving large doses of inhaled medicine, usually in hospital, but may also be used at home instead of an inhaler to treat children under the age of two years.
Asthma management
Medicines are only part of the treatment for asthma. Asthma also needs to be managed by dealing with the things that make it worse. Identifying and avoiding the things that trigger a child´s asthma is an essential part of the overall treatment plan.Keeping a diary to record anything that triggers a child´s asthma can help to discover a pattern. Using a peak flow meter to monitor the child´s lung function can also help. Repeatedly low readings in a certain situation may indicate the trigger.The older the child, the more they will be able to understand and participate in their own asthma management. With good management and appropriate treatment, most children with asthma lead completely normal lives.
Asthma in adults
Asthma is a relatively common condition and one in ten people suffer an asthma attack at some time in their lives. Children are more vulnerable.
What is asthma?
The symptoms of asthma are caused when airways (the tubes which carry air to and from the lungs) narrow and become inflamed.
This may happen if there’s too much mucus being produced by the airways, or there is swelling or spasm in the lining of your airways. You feel breathless, wheezy, and may develop a dry cough. Symptoms tend to be worse at night or in the early morning.
The symptoms can be severe and distressing, and may require hospital treatment. Severe asthma attacks can be fatal.
What triggers it?
The symptoms of asthma can be set off by a variety of different triggers.
These include: l exposure to allergens (substances that trigger a reaction) l physical exertion l breathing in cold air l an infection l a reaction to certain medicines
For many people with asthma, especially children, an allergy to house dust mites and animal hair or fur is common. If you have allergic asthma, you or other family members may well also suffer from eczema or hay fever.
Other possible allergens include: l chemicals found in the workplace (it might be helpful to note if your symptoms come on only when you’re at work), l other environmental pollutants, such as cigarette smoke. All these triggers can irritate the airways in your lungs, making an asthma attack more likely. But the reasons why symptoms come on at particular times, and why some people are affected and not others, are not yet fully understood.
The doctor or asthma specialist will use a device called a peak flow meter to help diagnose asthma, and to monitor the progress of treatment. A peak flow meter measures how much, and how fast, air can be expelled from the lungs. This type of test of lung function is known as spirometry.
Spirometry gives a measure of how severely breathing is affected. If measured regularly, over time, these readings can also help reveal how well or badly the asthma is being controlled.
Asthma isn’t always easy to diagnose. Anything that causes congestion of the lungs or airways can lead to problems that are similar to the symptoms of asthma. For example, a young child may have all the symptoms of asthma, but in fact he or she may have inhaled something which is blocking the airways (a coin or a button, for example).
In some adults, the symptoms of asthma may be a sign of heart disease, especially if wheeziness occurs when there has never been an asthma attack in the past. Heart failure can cause congestion (excess fluid) of the lungs, and have symptoms similar to asthma.
Although it’s not always easy, it’s important to try to avoid anything that might make asthma worse, or bring on an attack. There’s also a range of treatments which may help keep symptoms in check. Measuring peak flow regularly, especially first thing in the morning, is a useful way of monitoring the condition and checking whether any treatments are helping.
The most common way of taking treatment is with an inhaler – or "puffer" which delivers a precisely measured dose of a medicine in aerosol or fine powder form. Learning how to use the inhaler properly, including how to co-ordinate "firing" the device and breathing in, is essential.
The two main types of medicine used in inhalers are relievers and preventers.
A reliever medicine helps to open up the airways and works rapidly. It is used at the beginning of an asthma attack. Inhalers containing these medicines are coloured blue.
Preventer drugs, which can be used together with relievers, are for preventing the symptoms. Most preventers are inhaled corticosteroids, usually referred to simply as steroids. They act to reduce the inflammation in the airways. People who regularly have to use a reliever twice a day or more, will probably be prescribed a preventer as well. Unlike relievers, preventers aren’t meant to have an immediate effect and should be used as prescribed, whether or not there are symptoms.
In the inhaled form, steroids have far fewer side-effects than steroids in tablet form. Preventer medicines usually come in red or brown packaging.
If asthma is quite severe or unpredictable, it may be necessary to take a course of steroids in tablet form. These work in the same way as inhaled preventers, by reducing inflammation.
Nebulisers make a mist of water and asthma medicine that is breathed in. They can deliver more of the drug to exactly where it’s needed than conventional inhalers can. This is particularly critical in the event of a serious asthma attack. Nebulisers are mostly used at hospital, but some people may have them at home. They’re also sometimes used to treat young children, who may have problems using an inhaler or taking tablets.
Spacers offer an alternative for people who find an inhaler awkward to use. They’re also good for getting more of the medicine into the lungs.
A spacer is a long tube which clips on to the inhaler. At the other end of the tube is a mouthpiece or mask which you breathe in and out of.
Managing your asthma
If you have asthma – or you have a child who does – it’s worth remembering that it is something you can control yourself to a large degree.
It’s important to plan ahead. Always have your reliever available to help yourself when you feel the symptoms coming on. This should help cut down the risk of more serious attacks, and avoid the need to go to hospital.
Talk to your doctor and find other information to help you understand what might be causing the asthma, and how to avoid the triggers. With the right advice and medications, and an awareness of your symptoms, you can build a personally tailored self-management plan. Click here if you want more information about asthma or other health issues.
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