Some Interesting Facts about Asthma

Some Interesting Facts about AsthmaNobody understands that frightening and vulnerable feeling of not having any breath better than a victim of asthma.  Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects over eleven percent of the population by making the airways particularly sensitive to irritants.  As a result of this, breathing becomes extremely difficult and often experience symptoms of asthma or a full blown attack. An asthma attack is whenthe inside walls of the airways in your lungs can become inflamed and swollen. In addition, membranes in your airway linings may secrete excess mucus. During an asthma attack, your narrowed airways make it harder to breathe and you may cough and wheeze And while many asthma sufferers will grow out of the disease, many people carry it throughout their lives, and between five and six thousand people lose their lives to asthma each year.

Asthma can develop in anyone at anytime however it is most commonly seen in children under six and is the most chronic childhood disease.  Statistically, boys are at greater risk for asthma than girls and in children under fourteen, boys are twice as likely to have asthma as girls.  One of the more troubling statistics is that death rates are fifty percent higher among African American adults than white adults and one hundred fifty percent higher in children.

The main causes of asthma are allergic and non-allergic both of them present the same health issues.  Allergic and aero-allergens include seasonal pollen, mold spores, dust mites, animal allergens and food.  Non-allergic causes of asthma have included smoke odors, cold air and other weather types, chemicals, medications, exercise and hormonal changes.  All of these are triggers and can ignite asthma symptoms that segue into an attack.

People that have a parent with asthma are more at risk with a twenty-five percent chance of developing the disease as a child or at some point in their life.  In addition, people who are predisposed to asthma may be at a higher risk if they are overweight beyond infancy.

Exercise induced asthma is different than asthma that is triggered with other allergic or non-allergic substances. And, exercise induced asthma is much different than being out of breath after you have exerted yourself. Like other asthma causes, exercise induced asthma occurs when the airways tighten and produce extra mucus as a result of exercising.  Typically what happens is a person with exercise induced asthma will begin to cough, wheeze or feel out of breath during or after exercise.  Someone who is a victim of exercise induced asthma will only develop symptoms during exercise and some people have developed them fifteen to twenty minutes after they have completed their routing.  Often, people with exercise induced asthma do not need treatment – they are able to regain their breathing and coughing stops.  However there are many people that develop symptoms that continually get worse and often need to be treated by emergency care.

The good thing is asthma is treatable, and to some degree, preventable.  Today, there are many asthma treatments that have been proven successful and full blow attacks are minimized as a result of these ongoing treatment.  When the walls of the airways become inflamed, steroids are typically what is used or stabilizers to reduce the inflammation.  The use of the inhaled steroids results in better control of asthma with fewer symptoms and flare-ups.  Unfortunately, however, while these daily steroids prevent asthma symptoms, thy do not relieve asthma symptoms during an attack.

Like any ongoing treatment or drug, there are side effects of the inhaled steroids but they are minimal, unless you are on higher doses required by a physician.  The most common side effect is yeast infection of the mouth.  Most people are surprised that there is not an entire laundry list of side effects as a result of oral steroids but what needs to be understood is inhaled steroids are not the same as anabolic steroids – the steroids used for asthma are anti-inflammatory drugs.

Long-term use of inhaled steroids does put people at a higher risk of glaucoma.  Anyone that has been using high daily doses of inhaled steroids for periods longer than three months are at risk.  This should be factored in when considering elderly people for long-term steroids as the risk for glaucoma increases as people age.  Although for now, this is the only known long-term adverse effect from inhaled steroids, but there is always a concern for potential adverse affects among patients.

Asthma is not a death sentence, and it cannot be used as a crutch in life – it is a very common disease that many people live with and function just fine.  There are certain limitations as a result of the disease, but none that are life altering.  Many professional athletes are sufferers of asthma.  Preventative maintenance is key and making sure you have medication in the even of an attack is vital.  But with that in mind, children, teens and adults can function and live like at ease even with asthma.

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