What is Asthma? Asthma Information and Facts
Asthma, according to the “American Heritage Dictionary” means:
A chronic respiratory disease, often arising from allergies, that is characterized by sudden recurring attacks of labored breathing, chest constriction, and coughing.
Among both children and adults, asthma is one of the most common chronic illnesses in countries including the United States and much of Europe. Because asthma is considered a chronic illness, treatment regimens for patients must be followed accordingly in order to reduce the affects and ongoing health problems that can result from mismanagement of the condition.
There is currently no cure available for asthma, however new discoveries in the medical research field are increasing the medications and techniques used to monitor and treat asthma in patients with the disease.
An asthma patient has particularly sensitive air passages, or airways, resulting in difficult breathing for the patient when these air passages are irritated from an introduced substance or atmospheric change.
Other irritants for asthma patients include pet dander, dust, chemicals in the food they eat, air pollutants and dust mites. The fact that these irritants are more widely-prominent now that in the past gives support for evidence showing that asthma is becoming a more common health concern throughout the world than ever before.
The number of patients diagnosed the number of deaths and the number of hospitalization rise annually according to statistics. However, with the newest medical advances this number will hopefully decline in the future. Unfortunately for these new patients, health care costs also increase annually, often making the necessary medications unattainable for some patients.
People with asthma do not generally suffer continuously, rather they tend to experience flare ups that are technically called asthma attacks. The symptoms of an asthma attack vary from patient to patient, but are generally characterized by symptoms as simple as coughing and as life-threatening as breathlessness and sever breathing difficulties.
These symptoms are a result of one or more of the following: extra mucous in the patient’s airway, swelling in the tissue of the airways as a result of introduced irritants and muscle spasms in the air passages as a result or one or both of the first causes listed.
Asthma attacks are generally sudden, however some patients may experience pre-attack symptoms that indicate that they are about to experience an asthma attack. These early warning signs are sometimes missed by patients but can include any of the following:
The early warning signs listed above enable the patient being treated with reactionary, rather than preventative, medication to take the appropriate dosage necessary to stop the attack at its earliest stages. Two of the medications often used by patients to slow the effects of an oncoming attach are actually hormones. One is a steroid, called hydrocortisone. The other is known as epinephrine, or adrenaline. The latter is known as adrenaline nearly everywhere outside of the United States.
One of the most important things that an asthma patient can do in order to increase the manageability of their condition is to learn to recognize and react to these early-warning symptoms, much like a heart attack or stroke victim.
The most serious risk associated with an asthma diagnosis is death. The patient may experience symptoms similar to those occurring in a drowning person. They result because the patient is not receiving enough oxygen when their air ways begin to completely close. What happens in an asthma attack is that smooth muscles surrounding the airways begin to spasm rapidly as the tissue located in the airways begins to swell from irritation. These two combined will cause the airways to literally shrink, making it difficult for oxygen to get through. The result of this combination of events is that the body does not get enough oxygenation through blood flow, which places extreme stress on the systems of the human body.
One of the problems with the two medications listed above is that like many other long term treatment options, such as antibiotics, the effectiveness of the medication tends to decrease substantially after repeated use. Therefore the ability of the hormones to relieve the construction of a patient’s airway is decreased, often putting the patient in serious danger.
In an attempt to combat this situation, researchers have developed and are continuing to develop preventative care options for asthma patients with a more serious case, or those who experience many flare-ups. These medications are not the right solution for every patient by their effectiveness has been proven through laboratory testing and patient trials, in addition to their widespread use and popularity among the medical profession.
Long-term preventative medications are given to a patient in the hopes that they will minimize the susceptibility to irritants, one of the leading causes of asthma attacks. In addition to these medications, asthma patients must avoid exposure to those irritants that tend to start their flare-ups.
Approximately 8% of the adult population and 13% of the child population suffer from the ongoing effects of asthma. The illness does not discriminate, and there is not a common age for diagnosis. Those with a diagnosis need to pay close attention to the details of their treatment plan. Asthma is an evolving illness, meaning that while some young children will grow out of the attacks many will see their condition worsen in adulthood. Also, some adult asthma patients were children with asthma who experienced a lack of symptoms for several or many years. Thus, it is important that a patient consider asthma a very serious health condition and make every effort to follow the treatment plan prescribed.
Asthma attacks are almost always unique in that no two are exactly alike. Some attacks are worse than the one before, and some are better than the next to come. In a more severe type of asthma attack, the air passages will begin to tighten to the point where enough oxygen cannot get to vital organs successfully. When this happens, the resulting condition is a medical emergency. People die frequently from bad asthma attacks. A patient suffering from a very severe asthma attack has a feeling that they are drowning.
Become a regular visitor at our "Health Care Blog" - Here are the latest blog entries:
Disclaimer: Health-Care-Information.org is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional medical services. Any medical or other decisions should be made in consultation with your qualified health care provider. We will not be liable for any complications, injuries or other medical accidents arising from or in connection with the use of or reliance upon any information on this web site.