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Allergies and Asthma Awareness

What does it mean to have Asthma?

There is no cure for Asthma. Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways, or the tubes that carry your air in and out of the lungs. People with asthma have inflamed or swollen airways. The inflamation causes the airways to be very sensitive and react very strongly to the things you are allergic to or find irritating. When the airways react and get narrow and the amount of air passing through the lung tissue is decreased causing symptoms like wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing. Symptoms seem to be especially bad at night and in the early morning.

Asthma symptoms can be controlled so that someone that has asthma is able to live a normal active life. Asthma affects nearly 20 million people in the USA including 9 million children. Asthma is the leading cause of school absence for children.

What To Do When Asthma Symptoms Become Worse than Usual

When asthma symptoms become worse than usual, it is called an asthma episode or attack. During an asthma attack, the muscles around the airway tighten and constrict the air flow, inflamation increases and the airways become more swollen and narrow. Then the cells in the in the airway increase their production of mucus. This extra mucus also narrows the airways and causes breathing to be much harder. Sometimes the attacks can be so severe that not enough oxygen is able to reach the vital organs. This becomes an medical emergency. You should see immediate medical attention.

If you have asthma you should see your doctor regularly. You will need to learn what things cause your asthma symptoms to get worse and how to avoid them .Your doctor will prescribe medications to keep your asthma under control. You will need to work closely with your doctor and take the medications as prescribed and monitor your asthma so you will be able to respond quickly to the first signs of an Attack.

Information your physician will want to know:

  1. Any periods of coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest tightness that come on suddenly, occur often, or seem to happen during certain times of the year or season
  2. Colds that seem to "go to the chest" or take more than 10 days to get over
  3. Medicines you may have used to help your breathing
  4. Your family history of asthma and allergies
  5. Things that seem to cause your symptoms or make them worse

There are things in the environment that bring on asthma symptoms and lead to asthma attacks. Some of the more common things include exercise, allergens, irritants, and viral infections. Some people have asthma only when they exercise or have a viral infection.

Allergens like:
  1. Animal dander from the skin, hair or feathers of animals
  2. Dust mites contained in household dust
  3. Cockroaches
  4. mold that is indoors or outdoors
  5. pollen from trees or grasses

Irritants like:

  1. Cigarette smoke
  2. Air pollution
  3. Cold air or changes in the weather
  4. Strong odors from painting or cooking
  5. Scented products
  6. Strong emotional expressions including crying or laughing hard and stress

Others:

  1. Medications such as aspirin or beta -blockers
  2. sulfites in foods and beverages ...like wine and dried fruit
  3. Gastroesophageal reflux disease a cause of heart
  4. work place allergens like chemicals
  5. Infections

These are not the only things that can cause trouble with your asthma and some people can have trouble with one or more of these. It is very important to for you to learn which of these things affect your asthma. It is also important to follow your doctors instructions for treatment. Your physician will determine the right medication for your asthma condition.

Treatment may include:
Quick relief medications are taken at the first sign of asthma symptoms for immediate relief. The effects of theses medications is within minutes. These medications are bronchiodilators. They act quickly to relax the tightened muscles during the asthma attack to open the airways and allow more air flow.

Long term control medications are taken daily usually over long periods of time to prevent an attack. People with persistent asthma need long term control medications. The most effective is an inhaled steroid , lso inhaled beta-agonist, leukotriene modifiers, cromolyn and theophyllin.

How Often Should You See Your Doctor?

Both children and adults need to see their doctors regularly, follow instructions and take medication as prescribed. Both parents of children that have asthma and adults that have asthma must know what makes their asthma worse and what their signs are at the beginning of an asthma attack. Anyone who suffers from asthma must know what medications to take and how to take it correctly, when to call the doctor and most importantly when to call for emergency medical care.

Parents of the asthmatic child will need to limit allergens that affect their child, do not smoke in the house around their child. The adult asthmatic should not smoke .With proper treatment and knowledge you can keep asthma under control and breathe easy.

Source http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Asthma


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