Breathing new life into control of asthma
Ireland has the fourth highest incidence of asthma in the world and an important element of the treatment of the condition is an effective asthma management plan.
To assist people with the condition, the Asthma Society of Ireland has developed and launched Asthma Coach, a new free app for iPhones and mobile website for all smartphone devices aimed at helping them better manage their symptoms.
The Asthma Society of Ireland is a national voluntary association representing people with asthma, their parents, medical personnel and all those with an interest in the condition.
The app allows users to record and track their asthma symptoms, medication usage and peak flow to help them control their condition. Users may also share the diary and a graph of their asthma activities with their healthcare professional if they wish.
Asthma affects the airways – the small tubes that carry the air in and out of the lungs. Children with asthma have airways that are extra sensitive to substances or certain triggers which irritate them. Common triggers include colds and flus, cigarette smoke, exercise and allergic responses to pollen, furry or feathery animals or house-dust mites.
When the airways come into contact with an asthma trigger, the muscle around the walls tightens so that the airways become narrower. The lining of the airways swells and produces a sticky mucus. As the airways narrow, it becomes difficult for the air to move in and out.
Although there is no cure, asthma can be controlled by avoiding triggers and by the use of reliever and preventer medication. Relievers are medicines that people with asthma take immediately when it appears. Preventers help calm down the airways and stop them from being so sensitive.
One in 10 Irish people, some 470,000 are affected by the inflammatory lung condition and at least one person a week dies from an asthma attack in Ireland. Furthermore, it is estimated that 280,000 of those affected do not have the condition under control.
“Asthma is often not recognised as a serious condition, but more than 19,000 people attend AE due to asthma each year,” says Asthma Society chief executive Sharon Cosgrove.
“Adults with asthma miss an average of 12 days of work and children miss 10 days of school each year.
“It is a chronic disease which has a terrible effect on the lives of so many people. It’s essential for people with asthma to have an asthma management plan and to review it regularly with their healthcare professional. The Asthma Coach will let them do this easily in a way that fits into their busy lifestyle.”
The free app can be used by anyone with asthma and can also be used by the parent of a child with asthma to help track their condition. “There are over 741,000 smartphones in Ireland, with 40 per cent of people under 34 and 60 per cent of mums owning one,” says Cosgrove.