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HAAD: Over 56% of Asthma Cases Occur Among Children
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02 May 2017

Abu Dhabi – May 02, 2017: The Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD), the regulator of the Healthcare Sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, has revealed that over 56% of asthma cases registered with Abu Dhabi healthcare facilities occur among children between the ages of 0-17.

The announcement, which coincides with World Asthma Day, falls on the 2nd of May and comes as part of their annual "Breathe Freely, Enjoy Life” asthma awareness campaign. With an aim to keep asthma under control, HAAD continues to ramp up its efforts to shed light on this chronic respiratory disease. The campaign targets the entire community and parents in particular, to increase awareness about asthma, including its triggers and risk factors. It looks to impart patients with self-management skills and keeps healthcare professionals updated on the latest international guidelines for the treatment of asthma.

Dr. Omniyat Al Hajeri, Director of Public Health Division at HAAD, stated: “In line with our vision towards a healthier Abu Dhabi, HAAD is intensifying its efforts on its "Breathe Freely, Enjoy Life” campaign to reach all members of the community with a focus on educating asthma patients. Targeting affected children in particular is vital, as often times they are too young to fully comprehend the seriousness of their condition, let alone keep it under control – making parental intervention a necessity. Asthma patients can enjoy completely normal lives and incorporate physical exercise provided they maintain regular check-ups and use prescribed asthma medications as indicated by their doctors.”

Aside from following a doctor-prepared asthma management plan, HAAD strongly advises affected patients to avoid asthma triggers by limiting exposure to strong odors (e.g. Bakhour and air fresheners), traffic and industrial fumes, sandstorms, dust and mold. Asthma sufferers are also advised to limit their interaction with household pets with fur, as well as take measures to curb psychological factors, such as stress.
A survey conducted by HAAD to measure the community’s awareness and perceptions on asthma found that there are still widely held misconceptions about the management of the respiratory illness amongst the local population. Over 34% of surveyed participants believed that the use of inhalers leads to addiction, while over 26% listed physical exercise as a cause of asthma.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Dr. Al Hajeri said: “Regular physical exercise can actually improve the immune system and strengthen respiratory muscles. However, if asthma patients have difficulty breathing during physical activity this could be an indication that the illness is being poorly managed, and may require a revised treatment plan. Asthma medications are in no way addictive; the misconceptions surrounding the use of asthma medications such as inhalers may be a result of the repetitive nature of their use. Much like any other chronic disease, asthma requires regular and continued treatment in order to allow patients to live healthy and normal lives. At HAAD, we cannot stress enough the importance of patients reviewing their asthma management plan regularly with their doctors as well as the avoidance of known triggers.”

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs that causes periodic episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. Although the underlying asthma cannot be cured, the severity and the frequency of acute attacks can be greatly reduced by taking the proper medication as prescribed and avoiding asthma triggers. While most often diagnosed during childhood, asthma can affect people of all ages.

HAAD launched its “Breathe Freely, Enjoy Your Life” campaign as part of the annual chronic respiratory disease awareness program introduced in 2012. The program aims to raise public awareness about the prevention and treatment of chronic respiratory diseases, particularly asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In cooperation with various governmental and private healthcare facilities.
For more information about asthma, its triggers and methods of keeping it under control, please visit: www.haad.ae/Asthma

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