The WHO states that Asthma attacks all age groups but often starts in childhood. It is a disease characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing, which vary in severity and frequency from person to person. In an individual, they may occur from hour to hour and day to day.
This condition is due to inflammation of the air passages in the lungs and affects the sensitivity of the nerve endings in the airways so they become easily irritated. In an attack, the lining of the passages swell causing the airways to narrow and reducing the flow of air in and out of the lungs.
Between 100 and 150 million people around the globe — roughly the equivalent of the population of the Russian Federation — suffer from asthma and this number is rising. World-wide, deaths from this condition have reached over 180,000 annually.
- Around 8% of the Swiss population suffers from asthma as against only 2% some 25-30 years ago. - In Germany, there are an estimated 4 million asthmatics. - In Western Europe as a whole, asthma has doubled in ten years, according to the UCB Institute of Allergy in Belgium.
WHO have a Strategy for prevention and control of Chronic Respiratory Diseases.