Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease which affects the airways carrying air to and from your lungs. Suffers of this condition are known as asthmatics.
The inner walls of an asthmatic's air pathways are inflamed or swollen. This inflammation and swelling makes the airways very prone to irritation and increases the sufferer's likelihood of having an allergic reaction. The airways of the lungs become narrower, and less air is able to move through them. In some asthma attacks, the air passages are obstructed so badly that oxygen is unable to enter the lungs. This condition also keeps oxygen from getting into the blood stream and being distributed the body's organs. Severe attacks of this kind can prove fatal, and the patient may require emergency medical treatment. Asthma causes repeated periods of coughing and wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. The coughing normally happens at night or early in the morning. Asthma can affect all age groups, but it usually begins during childhood. In the United States, over 22 million people suffer from this chronic inflammatory disease. Nearly 6 million of them are children. The condition is incurable but can be be managed in most people with proper treatment.
Exact asthma causes are unknown at this time. Researchers believe that it is probably caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors- most occuring early in life. These factors include: an inherited tendency to get allergies, parents with asthma, certain kinds of respiratory infections suffered during childhood, and contact with allergens or exposure to viral infections in infancy or childhood. If the condition runs in your family, exposure to certain irritants (like tobacco smoke) can make your airways more sensitive to substances in the air. Triggers for this chronic inflammatory disease vary from person to person. Allergen exposure and irritants may trigger symptoms and signs of the condition. Asthma causes include: airborne allergens, such as pollen, mold, animal dander, dust mites, and cigarette smoke. Other triggers of this chronic inflammatory disease include: physical exertion, cold air, air pollutants and irritants, certain medications, and strong emotions or stress. Diagnosing asthma can be difficult, particularly in children younger than 5 years of age. Routine physical examinations that include checking lung function can help your physician make the proper diagnosis. During an examination, your doctor will probably ask you questions about whether you cough a great deal, particularly at night. If you receive a positive diagnosis, treatment is available to manage the symptoms that asthma causes.
The symptoms that asthma causes can be managed by proper treatment, allowing most asthma sufferers to live relatively normal, productive lives. This chronic inflammatory disease can be controlled when medicine is taken precisely as your doctor recommends and by avoiding triggers that can cause an attack. Sufferers of the condition may take different types of medicines to treat its symptoms. Some are inhaled, others are taken in pill form. Asthma medications are available in two main types- quick relief and long-term control. The quick-relief medications help control the symptoms of this chronic inflammatory disease. If you find yourself increasingly needing to use this type of medicine, you should get an appointment with your doctor to learn if you might benefit from a different type of medicine. Long-term medications decrease the frequency and severity of attacks, but don't help you if you're actually in the midst of an attack. Keep in mind that you can control your asthmatic symptoms. Your doctor will help you create a good management plan so that you know what to do based upon the symptoms you are experiencing.