Friday, January 18, 2013

Challenges of Asthma in Underdeveloped Countries

There are many people that suffer from asthma who vary in age, weight, gender, and race. Asthma is a chronic disease of the lung which involves inflammation of the airways. Physiological factors (such as viral infections and upper respiratory infections), environmental factors (such as pollen, dust, mold, mildew), and non-environmental factors (such as exercise, stress, anxiety) can irritate the lungs triggering an asthma attack. Unfortunately, asthma is worse for those in poor income countries due to unavailability of medicine. In developed countries the common treatments for asthma are inhalers, however many underdeveloped countries do not have access to inhalers and have to investigate alternative methods.

underdeveloped countries and asthma

Many of the challenges developing countries face with asthma are lack of medicine and technology, and poverty. The most common form of treatment for asthma is oral, rather than inhaled, medication. Oral medications are much more affordable and available than inhalers, which makes for a less effective treatment of asthma. Due to the scarceness of medication, treatment procedures for asthma do not meet the standards of the international guidelines (Watson & Lewis, 1997). Without proper medical care and guidance, it is much more difficult to create an asthma action plan. Consequently, this makes it a challenge for physicians, parents and caretakers to track symptoms and triggers of asthma. Emergency medicine is also scarce in developing countries, and when patients experience an asthma attack, the lack of response makes the situation much more severe.

Poverty is also an issue in developing countries. In poor income areas, health can almost always be improved in everyone. Poor health leads to a weaker immune system, which can lead to a development of more allergies, and irritants of asthma. The more irritants a patient is exposed to, the more frequently treatment will be needed. Unfortunately this ends up being a vicious cycle, and patients must live with the symptoms and triggers of their asthma.

Patients who do not receive the treatment needed for asthma are more likely to experience asthma attacks than patients who do. Inhalers need to be used every day to effectively treat and reduce symptoms of asthma. In underdeveloped countries, where inhalers are unavailable, oral treatments are taken, but most patients cannot afford to take treatments every day, and in many cases, there isn’t enough medication for everyone to take every day.

References

  1. Watson, J. P., & Lewis, R. A. (1997). Is asthma treatment affordable in developing countries. Retrieved from
    http://thorax.bmj.com/content/52/7/605.full.pdf