‘Poor treatment triggering asthma among most patients’

Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 12:22 IST
By Alifiya Khan | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA

Rs400 per month. That’s how much you have to spend to ensure that your asthmatic kid doesn’t have to suffer the ordeal of an attack. And yet, more than 62% of asthma patients under treatment for at least a year have uncontrolled asthma due to poor treatment adherence. Uncontrolled asthma leads to asthmatic attacks, besides other serious health problems.

The shocking statistics revealed in a study conducted by a Pune-based Chest Research Foundation (CRF) is ratified by many city doctors who say dropping out or discontinuing treatment mid-way, myths about inhalers amongst parents and resistance to preventive therapy forms a bulk of problem in asthma control. However, doctors say that low use of inhaled corticosteroid which is the most effective treatment for asthma is worrisome.

Dr Sundeep Salvi, director, CRF, said that while 90% of patients can control their asthma only 32% studied showed good adherence. “Most common reason for discontinuing inhalers was fear of getting addicted to it,” he said.

Agreeing with CRF’s findings, chest physician Dr Mahavir Modi said that myths and misconceptions about inhaler therapy especially amongst parents was reason for low usage of the medications.

“There are two types of inhalers; controllers meant for long-term use and relievers which are emergency inhalers. If asthmatic patients are put on controllers, they might not need relievers. Unfortunately, parents have aversion to inhalers. They treat it as a last resource as they feel it’s addictive,” Dr Salvi said. While doctors argue that inhalers are the safest and most effective medication methods as it leads to better hormone function and controlling inflammation, most patients prefer popping oral pills as they feel they’re safer.

“Besides low usage of inhalers, the problem of dropping mid-way from treatment is also a big concern,” said paediatrician and asthma expert, Dr Barnali Bhattacharya.

“Once children start feeling better with few weeks of therapy, parents feel it isn’t necessary to continue treatment anymore. They feel the medication can have side effects, so why push medicines into a healthy-looking child? But what they don’t realise is that they’re doing more harm than good. The inhalers help keep inflammation at bay and prevent attacks,” she said.