Handbook on asthma a good place to start

The Asthma Association of Barbados recently launched a book designed to aid asthmatics in the better management of their condition. A glance through that handbook will show that the Association tried its best to cover the full gamut of topics that often surface when discussions come up about asthma.

The Asthma Handbook, entitled “Asthma Treatment and Control: Volume 1”, defines what asthma is, its causes, its symptoms, the risk factors for developing the condition, triggers of asthma, treatment of asthma, the correct use of the asthma inhaler, the spacing device and other apparatus. It also contains an Asthma Action Plan and a section on managing asthma in the home, in schools and the work environment.

So kudos to the Asthma Association of Barbados for producing such a helpful and beneficial publication.

There is no doubt that Barbadians need to be better educated about asthma, especially those who do not suffer from the condition. The fact that numerous persons still engage in acts of indiscriminate burning of
refuse in the open in communities across Barbados is testimony to this fact. The fact that the authorities have thrown their arms in the air and decided to do nothing about it compounds the situation.

And whilst government has moved to put in place a smoking ban, any asthmatic will tell you, including this one, that while the concept was a good one, the emphasis should have been on ensuring that those who smoke do not do so in the vicinity of persons who could be affected by the second hand smoke. So for instance, if you are in a facility and a smoker goes on the outside, not too far away, to have a cigarette, but the smoke still finds its way back to those on the inside, what is the point? As some asthmatics have pointed out, if you are at the bus stop awaiting the next bus to get to your destination on time and someone who smokes goes upwind of everyone else at the bus stop to light up, how does that help the situation? If you are walking on Broad Street and someone who is smoking is walking ahead of you, letting the fumes blow where they may, how is that an effective ban on smoking in public places? A mere inconvenience, some would say, but to those who are asthmatic, interacting with cigarette smoke for even a brief period can do enough to cloud your day by affecting your lungs and how they function.

Imagine now when we have this issue of indiscriminate burning and the reach is much wider, as it relates to the smoke and the toxic fumes emitted. Why should you be inconvenienced by having to hurriedly leave your home because some inconsiderate neighbour decides to burn garbage, at whatever time of day he or she sees fit? And who knows what is being burnt? There are no regulations put in place to address these things. Sadly, there have been instances of persons losing their lives on account of these acts, or losing a few days off work as they attempt to recover from an asthmatic attack, whether mild or severe. But again, we sometimes like to turn a blind eye to certain things when it suits us.

Nevertheless, I want to encourage persons to get a copy of this handbook and familiarise themselves with the content. Whilst the book seeks to debunk a number of myths surrounding the chronic respiratory condition, it also points out that people with asthma can lead a normal, active life in spite of the uphill battles they at times face.

Barbados Advocate

Mailing Address:
Advocate Publishers (2000) Inc
Fontabelle, St. Michael, Barbados

Phone: (246) 467-2000
Fax: (246) 434-2020 / (246) 434-1000