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Asthma becomes more prevalent in females after puberty –Physician

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Lara Adejoro

A Specialist Registrar/Associate Fellow in Anaesthesia & Critical Care at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State, Dr. Julian Ojebo says asthma is greater in females after puberty.

Ojebo also noted that the majority of adult-onset cases of asthma diagnosed in persons older than 40 years occur in females. 

Speaking in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, Dr. Ojebo, however, explained that asthma predominantly occurs in boys in childhood, with a male-to-female ratio of 2:1 until puberty, when the male-to-female ratio becomes 1:1. 

According to the physician, boys are more likely to experience a decrease in symptoms by late adolescence than girls.

Asthma, he said, is a clinical syndrome of chronic airway inflammation characterised by recurrent, reversible, airway obstruction, adding that airway inflammation also leads to airway hyperreactivity, which causes airways to narrow in response to various stimuli.

“The estimate of lost work and school time from asthma is approximately 100 million days of restricted activity. 

“This is huge as it affects significantly the physical, economical, and social aspects of individuals with asthma,” he said.

He said the causes of asthma in individuals could be genetic or environmental, adding that the symptoms could be mild, moderate intermittent, moderate persistent, severe, or life-threatening.

“Asthma results from complex interactions between an individual’s inherited genetic makeup and interactions with the environment. The factors that cause a genetically predisposed individual to become asthmatic are poorly understood.

“Common triggers for asthmatic symptoms include exposure to allergens (pets, dust as commonly seen in factory workers, mites, cockroaches, molds, and pollens), exercise, and viral infections. 

“Other triggers include strong emotion, odour exposure, and temperature extremes. Tobacco use or exposure to second-hand smoke complicates asthma management,” he said.

The senior anaesthetist said asthma can be categorised into childhood asthma, adulthood asthma, exercise-induced asthma drug-induced bronchoconstriction, and others.

He said asthma can be life-threatening and can lead to death if not well managed.

“In the last class failure of diagnosis and failure of treatment with worsening signs and symptoms, it can kill the sufferer. Asthma is reversible and has no cure from medical science at the moment.

“The prevention is basically to avoid the triggers for each sufferer of the disease. Avoid pollens, perfumes that are strong and pungent, avoid extremes of weather, use personal protective equipment for workers in industries where dust is produced. visit the physicians often to know what to change in terms of drugs,” he said.

Ojebo added that though there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for it, the treatment options can be pharmacological or non-pharmacological.

“The signs and symptoms of asthma determine the type and duration of treatment. The signs and symptoms of asthma are coughs, catarrh, chest pain, wheezing, trouble sleeping, difficulty in breathing, silent chest, pale face and fingers turning blue,” he said.

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