I met an asthma patient recently who was really having difficulty breathing. It was a very scary sight to me and it got me doing this little research, just to know if it’s a disease that could be contacted by anyone or is hereditary. I also wanted to know if it has a cure or not. All answers to these questions of mine are below:
Here is what you should know about Asthma.
Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning. Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts during childhood.
The Risk Factors.
There are usually reasons or risk factors that predispose you to asthma and respiratory problems. Asthma does not just happen randomly to anyone without asthma risk factors. Let’s examine a few important ones:
Childhood asthma occurs more frequently in boys than in girls. It’s unknown why this occurs although some experts find a young male’s airway size is smaller when compared to the female’s airway, which may contribute to increased risk of wheezing after a cold or other viral infection. Around age 20, the ratio of asthma between men and women is the same. At age 40, more females than males have adult asthma.
I won’t totally ask you to blame Mom or Dad or both for your asthma (If you have). Your inherited genetic makeup predisposes you to having asthma. In fact, it’s thought that three-fifths of all asthma cases are hereditary. According to a CDC report, if a person has a parent with asthma, he or she is three to six times more likely to develop asthma than someone who does not have a parent with asthma.
Allergies and asthma often coexist. Indoor allergies are a predictor of who might be at risk for an asthma diagnosis. One nationwide study showed levels of bacterial toxins called endotoxins in house dust were directly related to asthma symptoms.
Sources of other indoor allergens include cigarette smoke and noxious fumes from household cleaners and paints which all cause allergic reactions and asthma.
Environmental factors such as pollution, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone, cold temperatures, and high humidity are all known to trigger asthma in susceptible individuals. In fact, asthma symptoms and hospital admissions are greatly increased during periods of heavy air pollution. Ozone is the major destructive ingredient in smog. It causes coughing, shortness of breath, and even chest pain — and can boost the susceptibility to infection.
Gas stoves are the primary source of indoor nitrogen dioxide. Studies show that people who cook with gas are more likely to have wheezing, breathlessness, asthma attacks, and hay fever than those who cook with other methods.
Several studies confirm that cigarette smoking is linked with an increased risk for developing asthma. There’s also evidence that cigarette smoking among adolescents increases the risk of asthma. Even more findings link secondhand smoke exposure with the development of asthma in early life.
Some studies show that asthma is more common in overweight adults and children. Overweight asthmatics seem to have more uncontrolled asthma and more days on medications for asthma.
Maternal smoking during pregnancy appears to result in lower lung function in infants compared to those whose mothers did not smoke. Premature birth is also a risk factor for developing asthma.
Sometimes asthma symptoms are mild and go away on their own or after minimal treatment with asthma
medicine. Other times, symptoms continue to get worse. Treating symptoms when you first notice them is important. This will help prevent the symptoms from worsening and causing a severe asthma attack. Severe asthma attacks may require emergency care, and they can be fatal.
Asthma has no cure. Even when you feel fine, you still have the disease and it can flare up at any time. However, with today’s knowledge and treatments, most people who have asthma are able to manage the disease. They have few, if any, symptoms.
Asthma is treated with two types of medicines: long- term control and quick-relief medicines. Long-term control medicines help reduce airway inflammation and prevent asthma symptoms. Quick-relief, or “rescue,” medicines relieve asthma symptoms that may flare up.
If you have asthma, you can take an active role in managing the disease. For successful, thorough, and ongoing treatment, build strong partnerships with your doctor and other health care providers.
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