Never too early, never too late: it’s always the right time to address airways disease

Never too early, never too late: it’s always the right time to address airways disease - article image

1 May marks the 20th annual World Asthma Day, an event held each year to raise awareness of asthma worldwide. The European Respiratory Society joins the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) and other founding members of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) in recognising this year’s theme: “Never too early, never too late. It’s always the right time to address airways disease.”

According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, 235 million people suffer from asthma, which can cause wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to control it to reduce and prevent asthma attacks or episodes. In the U.S., approximately half of people with asthma had at least one asthma attack in 2012. More children (55 percent) than adults (49 percent) had an attack.

The most common chronic disease among children, asthma is not just a public health problem for high income countries, it occurs in all countries regardless of level of development. Over 80 percent of asthma deaths occur in low and lower-middle income countries. Asthma is under-diagnosed and under-treated, creating a substantial burden to individuals and families and possibly restricting individuals’ activities for a lifetime.

Asthma attacks cause adults to miss work and children to miss school. Dangerous and sometimes life-threatening episodes rob patients of a good quality of life. However, patients can prevent asthma attacks by avoiding asthma triggers like tobacco smoke, mold, outdoor air pollution, and colds and flu. Asthma episodes can also be prevented by using inhaled corticosteroids and other prescribed daily long-term control medicines correctly.

This year’s theme for World Asthma Day is a call to action for both patients and healthcare providers worldwide to evaluate symptoms regardless of when they occur and take actions to ensure that the asthma is controlled.

World Asthma Day was first held in 1998, and has grown each year to become one of the most important asthma events globally. On World Asthma Day, hundreds of awareness-raising activities will take place in countries all over the world.

ERS resources for World Asthma Day

In honour of World Asthma Day, you can download the ebook of the Paediatric Asthma Monograph for free. To get this ebook, visit the ERS Bookshop before 15 May, add it to your cart and complete the purchase process as normal – you will not be charged. Additional resources from ERS on the topic of asthma includes:

On 3 May, ERS will also host an ERS Lung Health Check at the European Commission (10:00 to 14:00), where staff from the Commission will have the opportunity to do a spirometry test to check their lung health.

ELF resources to share with your patients