The Causes and Effects of Asthma Sufferers

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The causes and effects of Asthma Sufferers

The Problem
With 5.2 million diagnosed asthmatics in the UK, Asthma is a common disease which affects both adults and children. Of these 5.2 million asthmatics, 1.1 million are children. Asthma is a condition that has been around for many years and has caused around 1400 deaths per year, of which 90% are preventable. [1]

The numbers of asthma cases have been high due to environmental changes, familial history and lifestyle choices such as smoking during pregnancy to name but a few. It is a chronic condition that affects the airways, causing breathing difficulties. The condition has different levels, long-lasting or recurrent. Mild forms of asthma can affect people, as can very severe cases of asthma. Sufferers of asthma have a lower supply of air to and from the lungs. As this serious condition affects so many people, can it actually be cured?

What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the airways of sufferers. The inside walls of the airways are inflamed or swollen. This inflammation makes your airways very sensitive to any form of irritations and causes an allergic reaction to occur. As the airways become inflamed, they become narrower, restricting the flow of air to and from the lungs. This air restriction causes symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and also breathing difficulties. These symptoms are more likely to be experienced at night or in the early morning hours. [2] Many causes and triggers of asthma have been identified. Dust, paint and pet hairs are just a few of the identified examples. [1]

Below is a diagram of a normal and an asthmatic bronchiole: [pic] Words: 299
The Solution
A solution for treating asthma would be the use of inhalers. This is the most common treatment for asthma, and is much more effective than tablets or liquid by mouth. There are two main types of inhalers, reliever inhalers and preventer inhalers. Inhalers contain drugs that are delivered directly to the lungs. [3] Relievers (Blue), e.g. Salbutamol, contain bronchodilator drugs which widen the bronchi so that more air can pass through, making breathing easier. This is a fast treatment to relieve symptoms and is only usually used when needed.

Preventers (Brown), e.g. Pulmicort, contain steroids that reduce the inflammation in the airways. When the inflammation has gone, it is much less likely for the airways to narrow and cause symptoms. This is not an immediate reliever of pain as it takes 7-14 days for the drug to build up its effect. This reduces the need to use a reliever inhaler, as symptoms more or less disappear. [4]

Is the solution appropriate?
The use of inhalers is appropriate as the steroids they contain to treat asthma are corticosteroids. These are imitations of the natural steroid that is produced in our bodies. [1] Also as these steroids are inhaled, a tiny amount is absorbed into the body, as they go directly into the lungs. Also the dose supplied through the inhaler is a very mild dosage, so therefore will not have any major side effect on the body. The drug also acts faster as it travels directly into the lung. Hence, inhalers are considered as the best treatment for asthma because of the effectiveness of the doses taken.

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Implications of solution to problem
A sufferer’s social life can become damaged due to having asthma, therefore it has social implications. This is due to asthmatic patients needing to carry their inhalers around to treat an attack if it occurs. This is not an average thing to do within the realm of a critical society so it is deemed as a social issue of asthma. Undoubtedly, sufferers feel outcast as they are perceived differently to others and cannot socialise in the way that others can. This is because the younger generation of today, usually socialises through smoking or physically demanding activities, football. These are both difficult to perform or even more harmful to...
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