Facts About Asthma

Asthma is a condition which affects both children and adults. According to the According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), the statistics of asthma have risen in recent years.

The scarier part of this rise in asthma statistics is that the occurrence of the diseases has risen among children too, particularly in urban areas. This is obviously an indication that pollution and asthma have a connection. What’s even more alarming is that of all reported cases of asthma all over the world, 65% are from America.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a condition that affects the bronchial tubes. These tubes lead to the trachea (windpipe) and into the lungs, thus causing a person to have difficulty in breathing.

A person with asthma experiences "asthma attacks" or episodes. An asthma attack or episode is when a person’s airways become swollen and narrower thus making it harder for air to pass in and out of the lungs. To make things more complicated, swollen airways produce extra mucus, making it even harder to breathe.

In between episodes, an asthmatic person’s breathing is usually totally normal. But during asthma attacks, his/her breathing will be very constricted. He/she may wheeze, cough and feel tightness in his/her chest. If not treated immediately, the attack could get worse. But after that, the airways usually return to normal, though sometimes it may take a few to several days.

Who can get asthma?

It is not known yet why some people have more sensitive bronchial tubes than others. But, it is known that asthma runs in the family. According to the asthma statistics, 40% of all children whose parents have the disease or are prone to develop asthma.

Asthma can start at any age, but it more commonly starts in school-aged kids. About 6 million kids in the United States have asthma, which means about there are 1-2 kids out of 10 have asthma.

When person has a an asthma attack, it may sound like he/she has a cold. Plus, an asthmatic person may also experience coughing and wheezing. However, asthma is not contagious.

What causes asthma attacks or episodes?

Asthma attacks have a number of triggers.

A lot of people’s attacks are triggered by allergens. Allergens are everywhere. They are in dust mites, molds, or pollen from trees, grass and weeds.

Some people’s asthma attacks are triggered by furry animals. Cats and dogs have dander – a substance in animal fur that is sort of like dandruff that triggers terrible reactions in the airways.

Other triggers are things that irritate anybody’s airways but cause more powerful reactions in people with asthma. These include chalk dust, cigarette smoke, and even perfume for some.

How is asthma treated?

The unfortunate thing about asthma is that there is still no cure to totally cure it. But, you can find medication to ease the attacks of asthma. The thing about asthma is that different triggers are treated by taking different medicines. Though some triggers can be avoided like pets (cats and dogs), chalk dust, etc., people with asthma should know how to manage their condition by taking medication and by having it ready always.

Your doctor will determine what causes your episodes – how fast and how serious they are. Then your doctor will decide how to best treat your condition.

For some people, they need to take medication only when they have episodes. This is called rescue medication. For others, they need some kind of maintenance medication, to be taken everyday. These are called controller medication and are taken to prevent asthma attacks or episodes from occurring.

Medications are also very important because they help in preventing possible attacks. For instance, your attacks or episodes are triggered by allergens; you can take medication ahead of time. If your attacks are triggered by exercises, you can take medication before you go on your laps or whatever exercise you do.

Whatever your trigger is, you can get some idea as to how well you are breathing for a day. You can do this by using a peak flow meter. A peak flow meter is a device which measures the strength of your lungs. It works by blowing into it and then check the reading. It also helps let you know if you need to take medication.

Asthma medication usually comes in the form of inhalers. Inhalers are plastic tubes that have a container inside. Inside this container is the medicine. Some inhalers are pressed to release the medicine which a person can inhale. Some need not be pressed at all. The person with asthma can directly inhale the medication which will go directly to the lungs and ease the breathing.

Asthmatic people can also use a nebulizer. A nebulizer is a device (sort of like a cup with a tube attached to it) in which you put medication such as a Ventolin. The device is then attached to a machine, sort or like a compressor, which releases steam (with medication) that the person inhales and goes straight to the lungs. The same objective is achieved by this and that is to make breathing easier.

For some people who have asthma, their condition somehow becomes less serious as they get older. Some doctors think that its because the bronchial tubes grow wider or bigger as we grow older. Thus breathing in and out is easier.

Asthma need not be a handicap. All you have to do take the necessary precautions – avoid allergens and other triggers, and also always have medication with you.