Wed, May 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

HPA urges public to pay attention to asthma risks

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

About 5.1 percent of Taiwanese have been diagnosed with asthma, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said yesterday, World Asthma Day, urging the public to pay attention to asthma risk factors in their homes.

World Asthma Day, launched by Global Initiative for Asthma in collaboration with the WHO, is observed on the first Tuesday of May every year to raise public awareness of the disease that affects about 235 million people worldwide, according to the WHO.

The theme for this year’s Asthma Day was “Never too early, never too late. It is always the right time to address airways disease,” the agency said, adding that it is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world.

Asthma is characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and the symptoms of wheezing, panting, chest tightness and coughing, it said.

Sometimes no clear symptoms are detected, but a sudden attack can be triggered when the person is ill or exposed to stimulants or allergens, or drastic weather changes, it added.

The five most common causes of asthma attacks in children are exposure to dust mites, drastic weather changes, viral infection, iced drinks or frozen food and air pollutants, the agency said.

It urged people with asthma to pay attention to the risk factors at home that can trigger an attack, including bedding that has not been washed in two weeks, stuffed animals that have not been washed in a week, pet fur, tobacco smoke, iced drinks or frozen food and unstable indoor temperature.

Agency Director-General Wang Ying-wei (王英偉) said dust mites are the most common allergen in the home environment, adding that washing bedsheets and stuffed animals every one or two weeks and leave them to dry in the sun can kill dust mites.

Not placing rugs or carpets can also prevent dust mites, Wang said.

In addition, people with asthma should avoid exposure to stimulants, such as secondhand smoke and perfume, he said, adding that they should wear a surgical mask when outdoors to prevent inhaling air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides, and also avoid quickly inhaling dry, cold air when entering an air-conditioned environment.

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