What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which the lining of the airways become inflamed and swollen and muscle spasms restrict the flow of air to the lungs. It is a relatively common condition and the incidence of the disease has grown in recent years. Currently, it is estimated that 12 million Americans - including more than four million children - have asthma.
What are Common Asthma Symptoms?
If you experience difficulty breathing, a tight feeling in the chest, coughing, and wheezing, you may suffer from asthma. Sometimes a chronic cough is the only symptom, and many of these cases go undiagnosed. The symptoms of asthma are most frequently noted at night and in the morning, but an asthma episode can happen at any time. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening attacks which require immediate emergency treatment.
What Causes Asthma?
Although the exact cause of asthma is still being studied, it is known to be a combination of inflammation of the lung combined with narrowing of the lung passages activated by the body's immune system. There are a number of factors that are known to trigger an asthma episode including:
- Exposure to Allergens - Substances that cause an allergic reaction in some individuals include pollen, dust, mold, feathers, animal dander and some foods.
- Viral Infection - Simple colds can cause severe asthma exacerbation.
- Exercise - Most people with asthma can benefit from an exercise program with pretreatment and proper monitoring.
- Emotional Stress
- Weather Conditions - Cold, windy weather, or sudden changes in the weather can trigger asthma reactions.
What Can I Expect from Treatment?
With proper diagnosis and treatment by an asthma specialist, most people with asthma can pursue normal lifestyles and expect to:
- Sleep through the night without disruptive coughing episodes, and awaken with a clear chest in the morning.
- Avoid acute asthma "attacks" and eliminate the need for emergency room visits or hospitalization.
- Prevent missed days from work or school.
- Lead a full life with normal physical activity.
This information has been provided by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.