Asthma At A Glance
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that makes breathing difficult. This increasingly common ailment affects around 14 million adults and 6 million children in the United States. It is a serious condition that keeps people from enjoying their lives, whether at work or play, and can sometimes result in death, particularly in children. Like heart disease and diabetes, asthma is a chronic condition that cannot be cured; however, it can be treated and managed. Asthma is usually controlled through medication and limiting exposure to triggers. However, some people have found relief through natural remedies as well.
When a person experiences an asthma attack, the airways in their lungs become enflamed, the lungs produce extra mucus and the muscles in the bronchial wall tighten. This narrows the airway and can cause minor wheezing to severe breathing difficulties. Before most asthma attacks, you will experience warning signs or symptoms. Recognizing these symptoms and acting upon them as soon as possible can keep them from getting worse and may prevent an attack. The Mayo clinic lists the symptoms as:
- Sleep disturbances because of coughing, difficulty breathing or wheezing
- Increased wheezing or shortness of breath
- Needing "rescue" medications or bronchodilators more often
- Tightness or pain in the chest
People with asthma are over-sensitive to things that other people aren't bothered by. Irritants can be different for each individual. These irritants are called triggers. Some common triggers are:
- Dust mites
- Air pollution
- Respiratory infections and colds
- Cold air
- Strong emotion
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Asthma sufferers can reduce the frequency of attacks by identifying and avoiding irritants. When an asthma attack is caused by allergens, the culprit is usually dust, molds, pollen and animals. But sometimes food allergies can also cause asthma.
Millions of Americans already have asthma. But there are some risk factors that make a person more likely to develop asthma. During childhood, asthma is more common in males than in females. After puberty, asthma is more common in females than males. Other risk factors are:
- Living in a large metropolitan area, particularly the inner city
- Occupational triggers, such as exposure to chemicals
- Poor Diet
- Smoking and/or exposure to secondhand smoke
- Having parent with asthma
- Respiratory infections as a child
- Having a low birth weight
- Being obese
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Just as triggers and risk factors are different for each person, the severity of asthma is also different. The Mayo Clinic lists four different classifications: Mild intermittent is the most mild type of asthma. It causes mild symptoms two days per week and nights per month.
- Mild persistent. Asthma symptoms happen more than twice a week, but no more than once per day.
- Moderate persistent. Asthma symptoms happen once a day and more than one night per week.
- Severe persistent is the most severe form of asthma. It causes symptoms on most days and often at night.
When treating and managing asthma symptoms, medication is usually used in conjunction with other forms of treatment and lifestyle changes. There are three main types of medication.
- Medications for long-term-control. Use theses on a regular basis to prevent attacks and control reoccurring symptoms.
- Medications for quick-relief. These "rescue" medications are used for rapid relief during and asthma attack. They only work for a short period and do not prevent attacks
- Allergy medication. These medications are meant to reduce the bodies sensitivities to a particular allergen
To limit the use of medication and avoid the negative side affects associated with long-term use of medication, some asthma sufferers try natural remedies such as:
- Acupuncture. An ancient Chinese practice that uses needles to balance energy flow throughout the body.
- Dietary supplements and herbal remedies. Made from ingredients found in nature that have been used for thousands of years.
- Healthy lifestyle choices. Use diet and exercise to control allergies and avoid obesity and Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Homeopathy. This practice stimulates the body's natural healing response by exposing it to small amounts of the substance that is causing symptoms.
- Yoga. Ancient Indian system involving meditation and exercise to increase flexibility, improve breathing, lower stress levels and improve overall health.
http://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/what-is-asthma?page=2 http://mayoclinic.com/health/asthma/DS00021/DSECTION=2 http://mayoclinic.com/health/asthma/DS00021/DSECTION=3 http://mayoclinic.com/health/asthma/DS00021/DSECTION=6 http://mayoclinic.com/health/alternative-medicine/PN00001
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