A shocking new study
Prevalence of asthma
More than 2.5 million Australians have asthma – or about one in nine. It’s a long-term (chronic) disease, manifesting in inflamed airways.
Asthma affects around one in nine children in Australia and Dr Ryan Harvey from House Call Doctor said it was a leading cause of illness in kids.
“Asthma can have very real implications on a child’s life,” Dr Harvey said.
“it may mean they can’t run around like other kids do, they must always have their medication on them and must be aware of triggers.
“Asthma is a very serious condition, and in some cases can be fatal.”
A University of Queensland (UQ) study recently found gas stoves and damp houses could be to blame for several cases of childhood asthma in Australia.
Dr Luke Knibbs, from the Centre for Air Pollution, Energy and Health Research and UQ’s School of Public Health said the results were shocking.
“We found that 12 per cent of childhood asthma is attributable to exposure to gas stoves used for cooking, and 8 per cent is linked to household dampness,” Dr Knibbs said.
“Cooking with gas releases chemicals such as nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde, which causes inflammation in the airways and exacerbates asthma.
“Using high-efficiency range-hoods could reduce the amount of childhood asthma associated with gas stoves from 12 per cent to just 3 per cent.”
The study also identified eight per cent of childhood asthma is attributable to the presence of dampness. Currently in Australia approximately 26 per cent of Australian homes are considered damp.
“Damp homes are quite common around Australia and living in a damp home can also adversely affect children’s lungs,” Dr Knibbs said.
“Simple ways to reduce dampness include better ventilating houses with fresh air (using open windows when conditions allow), using room dehumidifiers, and limiting use of clothes dryers indoors.”
Symptoms of asthma
The most common symptoms of asthma are:
- wheezing – a continuous, high-pitched sound coming from the chest while breathing
- shortness of breath – a feeling of not being able to get enough air
- a feeling of tightness in the chest.
Asthma cannot be cured, but for most people, symptoms can be controlled by following a daily management plan.
The two main types of asthma medicines are relievers and preventers. These are usually take the form of inhalers or puffers.
Asthma sufferers need a reliever for when they experience asthma symptoms. Some children, and most adults with asthma, also need to take a regular preventer treatment every day.
Dr Harvey said taking a regular preventer helped in both the daily and long-term management of the condition.
“Using a preventer makes the airways less sensitive to triggers and reduces the inflammation inside the airways,” Dr Harvey said.
“It is thoroughly important to implement a treatment plan with your doctor because with good asthma management, you can lead a normal, active life.”