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The Rapidly Increasing Ashtma Problem

May 24, 2008
Asthma is a chronic disease involving the respiratory system in which the airways become constricted, inflamed and lined with excessive mucous, often in response to one or more environmental triggers.

The incidence of asthma is increasing worldwide and has become much more common in affluent countries over the last few years. It is caused by a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors that researchers do not fully understand as yet.

Asthma symptoms usually begin in early childhood, however asthma can present at any age, including in elderly persons. It is not generally considered a serious illness in most people who have it, mainly due to the mildness of symptoms and the range of very effective medicines.

Even so, asthma is one of the most common reasons for emergency department visits and hospitalization. Severe asthma attacks which may not be responsive to standard treatments are life threatening and may lead to respiratory failure and death.

Despite the severity of symptoms during an asthmatic episode, between attacks even severely asthmatic people may show few or even no signs of the disease.

Prevalence is greater in females after puberty and in the majority of adult onset cases diagnosed in persons over 40 years in females.
The incidence is increased in very young persons and the very old because of airway responsiveness and lower levels of lung function

Asthma often runs in families and you can inherit the susceptibility to Asthma, which is then triggered by certain factors in the environment.

Attacks are usually easily kept at bay with simple preventative measures and judicious use of bronchodilating inhalers.

Asthma can however have an effect on quality of life because attacks can be unpleasant and distressing and can restrict activity.
Having said that, while Asthma cannot be cured, appropriate management can control the disorder and enable people to enjoy most of the activities their peers take part in.

Many environmental risk factors have been associated with Asthma but a few stand out; poor air quality from pollution, smoking or high ozone levels, hormonal changes in adolescent girls or women, pregnancy, pets and wool fibres.

The condition can be triggered by respiratory infections, exercise, cold air, tobacco smoke, and other pollutants, stress, food or drug allergies. Strong emotional states can also trigger attacks.

Tests used to diagnose asthma include spirometry and peak flow meter tests which involve blowing into devices that measure how well the lungs are performing, as well as allergy tests and special exercise tolerance tests.

Symptoms can be substantially reduced by avoiding known allergens and respiratory irritants.
The most effective treatment is identifying triggers and eliminating them.

When medication is necessary, the specific medical treatment recommended depends on the severity of the illness and the frequency of their symptoms.
Medications are divided into 2 categories, quick relief and preventative long term medications, both are usually dispensed by means of inhalers.

In severe asthmatics oral glucocorticoids may be added to the normal medications when a major attack

As with other disorders, many asthmatics use alternative treatments including, allergy desensitization, osteopathy, chiropractice and physiotherapy.

The use of hypoallergenic mattresses and pillow covers to control dust mites is also commonly recommended.
About the Author
Dick Aronson has a background of over 35 years in various facets of the Healthcare industry. He set up and ran clinical trials in more than 20 countries and he has also founded a number of small private health related businesses. Dick now runs a number of informative health websites: visit author's health site for more information on health related products and opportunities.
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