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Helping asthma sufferers cope with condition

Common condition: about one in five school-age children suffers from asthma in Bermuda (File photograph)

Asthma charity Open Airways will be hosting events on three days this week to help sufferers learn how to manage their condition.

“Do you have an asthma action plan?” is the theme of World Asthma Day, which falls tomorrow and sees Bermuda join about 80 countries to improve awareness and care of the condition.

“Asthma is common, disabling, disruptive, misunderstood, potentially life-threatening and treatable,” Liz Boden, the charity’s co-founder, told The Royal Gazette.

“Many people think they have to suffer with asthma and simply do not understand that it is treatable. Asthma medications are safe and effective when taken properly.”

World Asthma Day is an annual event organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma to improve awareness and care.

Mrs Boden said: “Many studies have shown that asthma outcomes are consistently improved if personal asthma action plans are used.”

About one in five school-age children and one in ten adults in Bermuda have asthma, according to Mrs Boden.

“In the United States, one in ten children have asthma and in the UK one in 11 children, so we have a huge problem in Bermuda,” Ms Boden said.

“Asthma is usually genetic and it is pretty hard to find a family in Bermuda where no one has asthma or allergies.”

Ms Boden said the island’s indoor and outdoor environments are challenging for people with asthma and allergies.

She added that “Bermuda has to be the world capital for mould, which thrives in a warm humid environment”.

“When asthma is poorly controlled it can be disabling, children may not be able to fully participate in all school activities including sports.”

She said asthma is often misunderstood because symptoms can vary throughout the day, the year and throughout a lifetime. But it can also be life-threatening.

“No one should die from asthma,” Mrs Boden said. “We encourage everyone to see their doctor every year to review asthma medications and to get a personal asthma action plan.”

Asthma actions plans help sufferers recognise when their asthma is worsening and how to fine tune their treatments to avoid an acute attack.

“To succeed we need to encourage everyone in Bermuda who has asthma to take control of their asthma and not let asthma control them: get the right diagnosis, the right treatment, get an asthma action plan and see an asthma nurse,” Mrs Boden said.

Open Airways will be offering asthma education along with free pillows, spacer and microfibers cloths while supplies last, at City Hall from 11.30am to 2.30pm on May 3, Somerset MarketPlace from 9am to 12pm on May 4, and King’s Square in St George’s from 12pm to 2pm on May 5.

“We encourage everyone who has asthma to attend one of our events to receive asthma education and learn about asthma action plans and how they can obtain a personal asthma action plan from their doctors,” Mrs Boden said.

For more information, visit www.openairways.com or call the Asthma Education Centre at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital on 239-1652