Asthma

By: Michelle Lindhart

Definition

Asthma is a respiratory disorder that affects the lungs and causes the respiratory passageways to become inflamed. This then, makes it difficult for air to pass through the different air ways in the body resulting in coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and chest tightness.

Symptoms

Symptoms of asthma differs from person to person. However, the most common symptoms of asthma and asthma attacks include.....


  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness, pain or pressure
  • Pale, sweaty face
  • Very rapid breathing
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic
  • Difficulty talking


Causes

There are many different things that trigger someone to experience the symptoms of asthma. Some include....


  • Pollen
  • Exercise
  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Pet Dander
  • Dust Mites
  • Mold
  • Cold Air
  • Perfumes
  • Stress


Diagnosis

To diagnose asthma, one must seek medical attention. Here, a doctor will conduct a series of tests including a physical exam, a lung function test (spirometry), allergy test, and other tests that can rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms to asthma. A doctor may also ask about one's family and medical history to help find if asthma is common in one's family. By conducting these tests, a doctor is able to diagnose one with asthma.

Treatment

There is no cure for asthma. However, the main goal for asthma treatment is to control one's symptoms and have their lungs working as normally as possible. To do this, one may follow an asthma action plan which could consist of taking daily long-term medications (also known as a "controller" drug), short term medications (also known as a "rescue" drug which is taken when one is having an asthma attack), such as an inhaler, working to avoid the things that may trigger one's asthma, and where one must go if their symptoms flare up and become out of control.

Prevention

One cannot really prevent themselves from getting asthma. However, there are many steps one can take to eliminate the risk of suffering from the symptoms or an asthma attack. They include......
  • Learn more about your asthma and ways to control it
  • Use your medications as prescribed
  • Find and avoid things that may trigger your asthma
  • Get regular check-ups for your asthma



Statistics

1) About 15 Million people in the US have asthma.

2) 1 in 12 people have asthma (2009).

3) There are about 217,000 emergency room visits that are associated with asthma.

4) There are 3,384 people per year in the U.S. that die from asthma.

5) There are 13 million school days missed due to asthma.