In the last decade, the number of people with asthma increased by 15%. In the United States, today, over 25 million people have been diagnosed with asthma, including 6 million children. These are some of the facts about asthma that we tend to often forget, ignore or may innocently not be aware of.
Although asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in our country, it can be controlled through different prevention and treatment plans according to individual symptoms.
What are the causes of asthma?
Researchers do not know what exactly causes asthma. Some hypothesize that it is caused by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Others believe in the “hygiene hypothesis” which attributes asthma to a change in our immune systems due to increased hygiene and sanitation in modern society.
Some factors may be more likely to cause asthma in some people than in others. Asthma triggers are different from person to person and can include indoor and outdoor allergens such as dust, mold, and pollen. Other causes are linked to illness, physical activity, diet, and stress.
Facts About Asthma: What are the symptoms of asthma?
The chain reaction of swelling and narrowing of the airways, when exposed to an asthma trigger, can result in a variety of symptoms. Symptoms can occur each time an allergic response is triggered, and the airways become inflamed.
Sometimes these symptoms are mild and disappear on their own or after treatment with asthma medication. Other times, symptoms continue to intensify. It is important to know the symptoms so they can be treated before they become life threatening.
Wheezing is one of the most common symptoms present during an asthma attack. Wheezing is identified by a whistling or hissing noise as you exhale. In severe cases, it may also be heard during inhalation as well. Wheezing is caused by an obstruction in the small airways of the respiratory tract. This is a common symptom of exercise-induced asthma and typically starts during or after exercise.
A cough lasting more than six to eight weeks is another common asthma symptom. This cough can be dry and without mucus or it can be a productive cough with clear, sticky sputum. Many other conditions can cause a cough, including bronchitis, pneumonia and heart disease, so it is best to consult with a doctor regarding a long-term, persistent cough.
Shortness of breath can be one of the scariest asthma symptoms because it creates a sensation of suffocation. During an asthma attack, the shortness of breath can be severe enough to cause severe panic, accompanied by increased heart rate, sweating, and fatigue due to the effort of trying to get enough air into the lungs. In this situation, it is best to sit up and lean forward to help open the lungs and bring in more air.
Once breathing becomes a struggle it often leads to the additional symptom of difficulty speaking. With the reduced airflow into the lungs, the oxygen supply to your blood and organs is significantly reduced causing confusion, difficulty concentrating, lethargy, and a blue tint to the skin. When the symptoms are this severe, emergency treatment is needed immediately.
Some people have asthma symptoms that are more prevalent at night causing difficulty sleeping. This is known as nocturnal asthma. During sleep, the airways naturally become more narrow which may cause increased airflow resistance and trigger nighttime coughing. Increased drainage from your sinuses happens while you sleep and can also trigger asthma in already sensitive airways.
Facts About Asthma: How can asthma be diagnosed?
For a true asthma diagnosis, you will need to consult a medical professional. A doctor can review your medical and family histories, perform a physical exam, and order tests to eliminate other illnesses. Once you are diagnosed with asthma it is important to understand the severity of your triggers and symptoms.
Facts About Asthma: What is the treatment for asthma?
If your asthma is severe and you have seen a doctor, you may need to take prescription medication to keep your symptom under control. The right medications for you depend on a number of things—your age, symptoms, and asthma triggers.
Work with your doctor to create an asthma action plan that outlines all recommendations to manage your symptoms. These recommendations may include medication as well as tracking your symptoms to monitor how well your treatment is controlling your asthma.
If you are interested in a natural treatment plan for asthma and want to avoid taking medication, there is an e-book, Asthma Free Forever. This book was written by Jerry Ericson, a researcher and homeopathic practitioner.
The treatments contained in this book are based on his 20 plus years of helping asthma sufferers quickly and permanently eliminate their symptoms with natural remedies. This book is appropriate for all types of asthma as its step-by-step instructions can be used in combination with medication for those suffering from the most severe symptoms.