What is Asthma?

Posted by Chirag Patel on Fri, Nov 12, 2010  
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Asthma is a long-lasting inflammatory lung disease, characterized by constriction of the airways in the lungs, swelling of the lining of the bronchial tubes in the lungs, and secretion of excessive amounts of thick mucus. This inflammation is activated by irritants or allergens, called triggers. This inflammation may cause difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. Sometimes symptoms are severe enough to warrant treatment in an emergency room. Asthma usually begins in childhood, although onset in adulthood is not uncommon. There is no known cure for asthma. In most people, symptoms get less severe as they get older. It can be a complication for older adults who develop other respiratory problems, such as emphysema. Treatment focuses on: "Rescue," usually by means of an inhaler when symptoms are severe enough to cause difficulty breathing. Prevention of symptoms, by a combination of managing triggers (eliminating dust, for example) and medications.


Basic Information About Asthma
Are you, or someone you know, one of the more than 20 million Americans with asthma? According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, these sufferers translate into four out of five Americans being affected by asthma, through family, friends and co-workers.


What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease, characterized by spasms or constriction of the bronchial tubes, swelling of the lining of the bronchial tubes, and secretion of excessive amounts of thick mucus that is activated by irritants or allergens referred to as triggers. The results of this process may be difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing and cough.


What are the symptoms of asthma?
    * Wheezing
    * Shortness of breath, perhaps only with exercise
    * Feeling a tightness in the chest
    * Coughing, which may occur only at night


Who is at risk?
Children, as well as adults, are affected. Asthma is the most common pediatric chronic illness. The American Lung Association reports that about one-third of asthma sufferers are under the age of 18. Allergies are significant triggers for asthma symptoms: 80 percent of children and 50 percent of adults with asthma also have allergies.


What are the most common triggers for Asthma Symptoms?
A trigger is something that causes an individual to begin to experience asthma symptoms. The most common are:
    * Allergens, such as dust mites, cockroaches mold and pollen
    * Weather
    * Exercise
    * Airborne irritants such as chemical fumes, tobacco and wood stove smoke
    * Respiratory infections
    * Emotions, such as laughing, crying and stress

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