World Asthma Day: 5 facts about the chronic disease all families ought to know

It was reported in 2014 that almost 300 South Africans per million die due to asthma each year. This makes it the highest reported mortality rate for the condition in the world according to the Global Asthma Network's 2014 Report.

Today is World Asthma Day, a global event dedicated to raising awareness around the chronic condition and improving the quality of life of those living with asthma.

CapeTalk’s Pippa Hudson show focused on families living with asthma and she spoke to Dr Shirani Naidoo, a paediatric specialist at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, and Chair of the National Asthma Education Programme.

Naidoo says that the number of South Africans living with asthma is continuously increasing.

Allergies and asthma have experienced phenomenal growth. In Africa, we're seeing that there is a significant increase not just in asthma, but in all the allergic conditions and we are finding a large number of affected patients.

Naidoo says that there have been rapid environmental changes on the continent that have accelerated some of the population towards allergies. She says there is a great deal of research and innovation invested in understanding the illness.

Here are 5 key facts about asthma every one ought to know, according Naidoo:

1. Up to 15% of school going children have a troublesome wheeze in the country.

2. Asthma is the single most common chronic disease of childhood across the developing world.

3. Asthma symptoms are episodic: they are coughing, wheezing and chest tightness.

4. The condition of asthma, however, is on going. There is an underlying chronic inflammatory process that occurs in one's airwaves.

5. Asthma is not infectious, but is hyper-reactive. And it requires chronic anti-inflammatory medication that can help prevent asthma attacks which are available at both public and private health facilities in the country.

Listen to the full conversation on CapeTalk's Pippa Hudson show:

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