WHAT IS ASTHMA?
Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways that makes breathing difficult. With asthma, there is inflammation of the air passages that results in a temporary narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs. When this inflammation occurs, the asthma symptoms start to show, such as, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Even though there are many treatments for asthma symptoms, it is still a very serious disease that affects more than 22 million Americans and brings nearly 2 million E.R. visits per year. Asthma can be lived with very well as long as proper treatment measures are taken (Wrongdiagnosis).
Asthma itself can be described as having 3 major features: airway obstruction, inflammation, and airway irritability. Airway obstruction-During normal breathing, the airways are relaxed and air can move freely. In people with asthma, however, certain triggers make those airways tighten and air cannot move freely. Inflammation-Individuals with asthma have red and swollen bronchial tubes. This inflammation contributes greatly to the long-term damage that asthma causes to the lungs. Treating inflammation is a key component to managing asthma in the long run. Airway irritability-The airways are extremely sensitive and tend to overreact and narrow due to even the slightest triggers (WebMD).
There are no real causes of asthma but it can affect every single person differently. There is one thing consistent with asthma, and that is when the airways come into contact with a certain trigger, they become inflamed, narrow, and fill with mucus. Here are a few of the triggers and how they affect the airways; allergies=80% of people with asthma have allergies to airborne substances like trees, grass, weed pollen, mold, animal dander, and dust mites. Food/food additives=not common for food allergies to cause asthma symptoms but can cause life-threatening reactions. Such foods are eggs, cow’s milk, peanuts, soy, wheat, and fish. Exercise=Strenuous exercise can cause a narrowing of the airways in about 80% of people with asthma. For some, exercise is the main trigger. You will feel chest tightness, coughing, and difficulty breathing for the first several minutes of activity. Heartburn=Can go hand in hand with asthma. 89% of asthmatic people also suffer from severe heartburn, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). This will generally occur at night when lying down. The stomach acids reflux, or back up, into the esophagus, and if the acid reaches into the throat or airways the irritation and inflammation can trigger an attack. Smoking=Will make symptoms worse (coughing/wheezing). Babies are at risk if their mother smokes while pregnant. If you are a constant smoker, quitting is the most important step to take to protect your lungs. Upper respiratory infections=A sinus infection causes inflammation in the mucus membranes which leads to increased mucus secretion. People with asthma will need prompt treatment in order to subside the symptoms. Even the cold, flu, or bronchitis could possibly trigger an asthma attack, especially for those children under age 10. Medications=Many people with asthma may be sensitive to certain medicines, even over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen, naproxen, and beta-blockers. Irritants=These could include tobacco smoke, fireplaces, strong perfumes, cleaning agents, and air pollution. Weather=Cold air, temperature change, and humidity. Strong emotions=Asthma and stress are more often than not seen together. Stresses that cause anxiety, crying, yelling, stress, anger, or even laughing can cause an attack (WebMD).
Asthma has many causes and the reactions to those causes could vary widely amongst each person. It is important for someone with asthma to identify their causes/triggers and recognize and avoid them whenever possible. However, the best way to control the symptoms is with asthma treatment and medicines...
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