Payel Gupta, MD: Asthma Doesn't Get the Attention It Deserves


When your colleagues and patients think of deadly diseases, where does their mind go? Heart disease, cancer, and stroke tend to top the list, and there’s no doubt that they’re a heavy burden on health systems, patients and society.

Asthma, on the other hand, might not even crack many people’s top 50, and that can be problematic, according to Payel Gupta, MD. “There’s still a huge burden of disease in this country,” she told MD Magazine in an interview.

While treatment options have expanded and outlook for adherent patients has improved, there seems to have been an opposite reaction in terms of people’s understanding of the condition. Children with asthma are more likely to be bullied and isolated from their peers, often because of misconceptions about the condition. As a result, many patients with asthma avoid their treatments for fear of being stigmatized, which makes poor outcomes more likely.

Tackling asthma treatment with this in mind can go a long way toward improving adherence and outcomes, Gupta said.

Payel Gupta, MD, allergist and immunologist, ENT & Allergy Associates, national spokesperson for the American Lung Association:

Asthma doesn't get [the attention it deserves.] People say, "Oh, I have asthma." A lot of people just kind of blow it off. But it still accounts for a lot of deaths in this country.

Even with all the treatment options we have available, there's still a huge burden of disease in this country. Not only the emergency room costs for patients going in constantly for their asthma exacerbations but then patients actually dying from asthma.

I think that people kind of downplay their asthma sometimes a little bit, because it's just kind of a common thing. "Oh, I just have asthma." But there's different variations of asthma.

When I was listening to the lectures, they started talking about how they started this big asthma study in 1994. They built this group of people that started to really look at asthma and how we can better treat it. And my mom passed away from an asthma attack in 1991, so sitting there and seeing that she passed away in 1991 and everyone started realizing that "Hey, there's something going on here. We're not treating these patients the way we need to be treating them, and this is a bigger deal than we thought. Something that we're doing doesn't seem to be working."

It's kind of interesting to see how has kind of evolved - the history of asthma and how it just continues to get better and better with new treatment options.

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