Mon, Dec 03, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Unstable weather a risk for people with asthma, doctors say

By Wu Liang-yi and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter and staff writer

People with asthma should take additional care in light of rapid temperature shifts, Taipei Veteran’s General Hospital Division of Clinical Respiratory Physiology head Perng Diahn-warng (彭殿王) said.

Two million people in Taiwan have been diagnosed with varying degrees of asthma, and the mortality rate is double that in Europe and five times that in Japan, Perng said.

National Health Insurance data show that from 1997 to 2001, 27,926 people were hospitalized with asthma each year, staying an average of 6.4 days and paying NT$16,000 (US$518.64 at the current exchange rate) per person in medical fees, he said.

Expenditure on hospitalization due to asthma is about NT$470 million per year, Perng added.

Asthmatic attacks are rare if people take good care of their conditions, even if they exercise or have a cold, he said.

Moderate control necessitates increased use — once or twice per week — of inhalers to ameliorate the condition, while people who do not control their condition well might wake up at night unable to breathe properly and might need to use their inhalers more.

Most incidents involving inadequate asthma control are due to lack of cooperation on the patient’s part, Perng said.

Like hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia and hypertension, asthma demands long-term monitoring and control, a fact often overlooked by asthma patients, Perng said.

When their condition stabilizes due to successful treatment or emergency medication, many people wrongly assume that they do not need to monitor or control their condition, Perng said.

Most asthma patients lack knowledge about the disease and control their asthma poorly until their condition worsens, Taiwan Society of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine chairman Lin Meng-chih (林孟志) said.

The society’s Healthy Lungs in Taiwan project aims to provide the latest information on treatment and medication for people with asthma, Lin said, adding that it also offers consultation and health education.

“More than 400 clinics and hospitals are contributing to the project, and we hope to engage more hospitals to provide comprehensive coverage and better care for asthma patients,” Lin said.

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