All About Asthma
Asthma is a chronic disease that involves the inflammation of the lungs. People that suffer from this chronic disorder experience bronchospasms, changeable airflow obstruction, and a range of other symptoms. Examples of common symptoms include coughing, tightness in the chest, being short of breath, and wheezing. Not everyone experiences these symptoms at the same right. Some may have symptoms flare up once or twice a week, while others may experience symptoms throughout the day. In some cases, symptoms may worsen after exercise or at night.
Experts believe that both genetic and environmental factors can cause a person to develop asthma. Allergen exposure and air pollution are examples of environmental factors that could trigger asthma. Some medications, like beta blockers and aspirin, can also be asthma triggers. When doctors diagnose asthma, they look at a range of factors, from symptom patterns to the way the patient responds to treatment. Doctors also use an instrument called a spirometer to determine lung capacity. When classifying asthma, doctors look at the patient’s peak flow rate, the regularity of their symptoms, and their forced expiratory volume in a second, or FEV1. If a patient is predisposed to develop type 1 hypersensitivity reactions, they may be classified as atopic. Patients that do not have this predisposition may be classified as nonatopic.
Doctors have not found a way to cure asthma. However, there are many ways to prevent and treat symptoms. Patients are less likely to experience symptoms if they stay away from triggers like allergens and other irritants. Inhaling corticosteroids can also provide relief. If a patient is struggling to control their symptoms, they may be given anti-leukotriene agents or long-acting beta agonists. If a patient is quickly growing worse, they may inhale a fast-acting beta-2 agonist, like salbutamol. If a patient is experiencing a severe asthma attack, they may be hospitalized. While at the hospital, they may be given magnesium sulfate and intravenous corticosteroids.
As of 2013, there are 242 million people worldwide that suffer from asthma. This is an increase from 1990 when there were 183 million people with asthma. In 2013, there were 489,000 deaths linked to asthma. The majority of those deaths were in developing countries. Asthma rates have been steadily increasing from the 1960s on. However, asthma is not a new disease. It can be traced back to Ancient Egypt. The word asthma has its origins in the Greek word “ásthma,” which translates to panting.
There are approximately 26 million Americans that suffer from asthma. 19 million adults and 7 million children have been diagnosed with this disorder. Asthma symptoms typically begin to appear in childhood, and it is a common cause of absences from both work and school. It’s not unusual to see asthma run in families. Based on data from the World Health organization, it appears that about 50% of asthma cases occur because of genetic susceptibility, and the other 50% are connected to environmental factors. As mentioned above, asthma cannot be cured. However, it can be managed. One of the best ways to treat symptoms is to see an allergist.
Many people only see asthma as a minor annoyance. People that have more severe asthma, however, may find it interfering with their day-to-day life. A serious asthma attack can be fatal. That’s why it’s important to control the symptoms of asthma. Asthma isn’t static; it can change over time. That’s why asthma sufferers need to work alongside their doctor. If symptoms are tracked, treatments can be adjusted as needed.
If you wheeze as you breathe or regularly experience shortness of breath, it is possible that you have asthma. Substances and situations can change a person’s breathing patterns. That’s why it is important to see a doctor if you suspect you may have asthma.
Asthma is far more common than people think; there are many people that suffer from asthma symptoms. If people seek treatment, however, they can keep their symptoms under control. It is especially important for children and pregnant women with asthma to seek proper treatment.
The Causes Of Asthma
A person that has asthma sufferers from the chronic obstruction and inflammation of their bronchial tubes. When people think about asthma, they often think of asthma attacks, episodes in which someone experiences severe shortness of breath. A person with asthma has asthma regardless of whether or not they are experiencing an attack. However, their symptoms may not flare up unless they are triggered by something. There are all kinds of different things that can trigger an asthma attack, from illness to cold air to stress to allergens.
An allergen is any substance that produces an allergic reaction in someone. Examples of common allergens include pollen, dust, and grass. If a person with a sensitivity is exposed to an allergen, their immune system regards it as a foreign substance. The body then releases chemicals to protect the body from the substance. These chemicals can lead to an asthma attack.
Typical Asthma Triggers
Indoor allergens, like dust, mold, and pet dander, and outdoor allergens, like pollens or grasses
Airborn irritants, like cigarette smoke and chemical fumes
Severe weather conditions, like cold or extremely dry air
Illnesses, such as colds, viruses, and the flu
The leading cause of severe asthma attacks is viral respiratory infections. The flu is a prime example of this. For the most part, bacterial infections do not trigger asthma attacks.
In some cases, people with heartburn may experience asthma symptoms as stomach acid enters their esophagus.
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
Approximately 20% of asthma sufferers have a sensitivity to aspirin or other pain relievers, like ibuprofen. Beta blockers, which are prescribed for conditions like glaucoma, migraines, and high blood pressure, can also trigger asthma symptoms. It is best for those with asthma to talk with an allergist about whether or not they should take these kinds of medications.
There are a few food additives that can trigger asthma symptoms. However, these reactions are rare. The ingredient that is most likely to trigger asthma symptoms is sulfite, which is a type of preservative. It is used to preserve some wines and beers, and it can also be found in frozen potatoes.
People with asthma are constantly experiencing lung inflammation. Their symptoms are always present, but those symptoms worsen when the person is exposed to an asthma trigger. This can make it very difficult for a person to breathe. Asthma sufferers need to be aware of their triggers.
Many people that have asthma see their symptoms flare up when they exercise. There are also people that exclusively experience asthma symptoms when exercising. This is known as exercise-induced asthma or EIA. It may also be referred to as EIB, exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Exercise is important to your health, so it shouldn’t be avoided. Instead, you should work with a doctor to come up with an exercise plan.
If there is a history of allergies in your family, you are more likely to develop asthma. A significant amount of people that have asthma also experience allergies. This is known as “allergic asthma.”
It’s easier to comprehend asthma when you understand how your airways work. Your airways are essentially tubes; they bring air in and out of your lungs. When someone has asthma, their airways are perpetually swollen and sensitive. This makes them far more sensitive to triggers like inhaled substances. Exposure to a trigger can cause a reaction in the airways.
If a person’s airways react to something, the muscles around the airways begin to tighten. This makes the airways more narrow, which can make it difficult to breathe. As the swelling increases, the airways become more and more narrow. If there are cells in the airways, the airways may also be full of mucus, a thick and sticky liquid that can cause airways to become even more narrow.