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Asthma is one of the most common non-communicable diseases that as of 2018, had affected 338 million people worldwide. Global Asthma Networks (2018) reports that asthma creates a global burden of disease and over recent years, has become one of the top twenty leading causes of death. Each day, this chronic condition takes the lives of approximately 1,000 people. This paper will describe the typical symptoms of asthma, discuss what demographics need more awareness, and study the trends in health literacy.
Asthma affects air passages causing inflammation and difficulties in breathing. With time, the airways become red, swollen, and increasingly sensitive to a variety of triggers which include but are not limited to pet fur, dust, aggressive smells, weather, and stress. A person with asthma suffers from so-called asthma flare-ups, or asthma “attacks.” Once he or she has come into contact with their trigger, their air passages tense up and prevent oxygen from being carried to their lungs. An asthma attack results in coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest area, and shortness of breath (American Lung Association, 2018). When neglected and untreated, asthma can be lethal, and for this reason, it is imperative to improve health literacy.
In the United States of America, bronchial asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in children with the prevalence rate ranging from 6% to 9%. In the adult population, the share of those who are affected by this disease amounts to 7,5% (Global Asthma Networks, 2018). Black persons had higher asthma admissions and hospitalization rates as well as mortality rates compared to white persons. The reasons for racial disparities in asthma are not precisely clear, and so far, researchers have speculated about the association with environmental stressors and limited access to health care (Global Asthma Networks, 2018). Apart from belonging to a racial minority, likely predisposing factors include smoking, allergic rhinitis, obesity, and having a blood relative with asthma (American Lung Association, 2018).
Enhancing Health Literacy
Since asthma is a chronic condition, persons affected cannot and should not solely depend on their care provider. Yin et al. (2014) have revealed an association between health literacy and improved asthma outcomes. The opposite is also true: Federman et al. (2014) discovered that low health literacy resulted in worse outcomes. Namely, older adults with impaired knowledge about asthma showed poor self-management and could not use an inhaler without someone’s help.
Asthma is one of the world’s most common non-communicable diseases and prevalent among children, racial minorities, smokers, obese persons, and persons with allergies. As of now, asthma is recognized as a manageable condition, and health workers need to promote self-learning and self-governance. By enhancing their knowledge about their condition, affected individuals can handle asthma attacks more effectively and prevent them from happening too often.
American Lung Association. (2018). How asthma affects your body. Web.
Federman, A. D., Wolf, M. S., Sofianou, A., Martynenko, M., O’connor, R., Halm, E. A.,… & Wisnivesky, J. P. (2014). Self-management behaviors in older adults with asthma: Associations with health literacy. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 62(5), 872-879.
Global Asthma Network. (2018). The global asthma report 2018. Web.
Yin, H. S., Gupta, R. S., Tomopoulos, S., Mendelsohn, A. L., Egan, M., Van Schaick, L.,… & Dreyer, B. P. (2016). A low-literacy asthma action plan to improve provider asthma counseling: A randomized study. Pediatrics, 137(1). Web.