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Respiratory

A reduction in respiratory flow is a hallmark of both asthma and COPD. The prevalence of obstructive lung diseases is rising all over the world.

In Belgium, it is estimated that:

  • 10% of the population suffers from asthma
  • 6% of the population suffers from COPD

 

The respiratory obstruction is a negative determinant for the quality of life of patients. Fortunately, there are efficient therapies available and new ones still emerging.

 

Asthma

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease, characterized by a hyperresponsiveness  of the airways that lead to mucus production and airway constriction. Attacks are often caused by irritations such as allergens and dust particles that do not cause a reaction in unaffected people. Even inhaling cold air can provoke an asthma attack!  Symptoms of an asthma attack include:1

  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing
  • coughing
  • chest tightness

 

Fortunately, we can keep asthma under control thanks to chronic medication that prevents heavy attacks. This allows patients to resume their day-to-day activities.

Asthma often coincides with other chronic diseases and long-term conditions such as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, obesity and obstructive sleep apnea. This can have implications for the patient’s quality of life and treatment choices.1

 

COPD

COPD is a respiratory disease recognised by a generally progressive and incomplete reversible bronchial obstruction. It is caused by an abnormal inflammatory response from the lungs to damaging gas or particles. The most common trigger is smoking. Lung emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two forms of COPD, each with their own characteristics. They can occur separately or together. The disease only occurs in adults.

In COPD patients, there is deterioration of the small airways and damage of the alveoli. As a result, lung function is reduced. Possible symptoms include2

  • chronic coughing
  • sputum production
  • breathlessness
  • oppression

 

Adherence & non-pharmacological therapies

Asthma and COPD are chronic diseases. Good use of their medication is of essential importance.1,2 This means good adherence to the prescribed maintenance therapy and a correct inhalation technique is very important as it results in a better control of the disease and subsequently improves patient’s quality of life. Therefore, good knowledge of correct use of inhalers is crucial, for which the app ‘MyPuff’ can be used, a handy tool including the instructions on the use of available inhalers.3

 

In addition to pharmacological treatments, also non-pharmacological interventions are necessary to assist in improving symptom control and/or reducing future risk.1,2 Cessation of smoking is the most important intervention in chronic pulmonary diseases as tobacco smoke is the leading cause of COPD, and an important asthma trigger.2 In patients with allergic asthma, avoidance of  triggers is the first intervention to prevent a worsening of disease symptoms. Frequent triggers include allergens from house dust mites, pets and pollen.1

Next to that, regular physical activity adjusted to each patient has clear health benefits and a positive impact on patient’s quality of life.1,2  

 

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[1] GINA guidelines (pagina’s 20, 70, 71, 85, 87 highlighted voor approval)

[2] GOLD 2020 (pagina’s 9,12, 21, 22, 82, 88 highlighted voor approval)

[3] MyPuff application, available for Android and Apple