6 Truths About Asthma That Will Help You Understand The Disease Better

6 Truths About Asthma That Will Help You Understand The Disease Better
Asthma is a quite popular disease today. If you think about it, you probably know one or two people who currently suffer from it.
But with so much information and myths out there, it is important to know what exactly this disease it, what causes it, how it can be prevented and treated.
This is what we will try to explore by explaining some truths about asthma, to help you understand it better.

1. It Affects Millions Of People Globally:

According to the World Health Organization, about 235 million people currently have asthma. This is a staggering number, considering how life-threatening an asthmatic attack could be if left untreated. It also affects every country on earth, regardless of how developed they are. So, it isn’t a disease that only affects low-income countries.

2. Science Does Not Know What Exactly Causes It:

This might surprise you, but the exact cause of asthma is still unknown. What science does know are that there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of a person developing asthma. These risk factors can be divided into two:
  • Genetic factor
  • Environmental factors
The genetic factor has to do with heredity. What this means is that asthma can be passed on from a parent to a child. A child who has an asthmatic father or mother is more likely to develop asthma at some point. This isn’t absolute though, a child whose parents are both asthmatic may still not get it, the child only has an increased chance of getting it.
Environmental factors are the immediate surroundings of a person. Things like air pollution (which is becoming widespread), tobacco smoke, strong chemical smells, dusty and poor ventilated rooms constitute environmental factors.
A combination of genetic and environmental factors strongly increases the likelihood that a person will develop asthma.

3. It Is All About Hypersensitivity:

Asthma is a disease that happens for one reason- hypersensitivity.What this means is that things that are benign are seen as dangerous by the immune system. In other words, the immune system sees triggers like dust, pollen, and strong odors as potential invaders and starts a ‘defensive’ reaction against them.
In the process, excess mucus is produced, and many immune cells and factors are activated which then lead to the narrowing of the airway. Just the way a person becomes allergic to peanut butter or some other food, asthmatic patients develop a similar ‘allergic reaction’ in their airways.
Note: Asthma is not contagious, it can’t be transmitted from one person to another.

4. Its Classical Symptom Is Difficult Breathing:

When the airway becomes narrow and plugged with mucus, a person will have difficulty breathing, unable to take in enough air for the normal function of the body.
Other symptoms of asthma are:
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound heard when breathing)
In addition, when a person with asthma presents at a clinic or emergency room, certain things are observable.
They usually have an obvious labored breathing, with the use of some accessory muscles to breathe. They might be restless, unable to speak without panting and sweaty.
The doctors usually use the best stethoscope they can find to listen to the chest of the person, and characteristic high-pitched sounds are heard called rhonci. They sound very similar to a wheeze. Sometimes, the doctor may also decide to use an electronic stethoscope which will make the abnormal breath sounds clearer and louder.

5. It Has No Cure:

Asthma does not have a cure at this moment. So, many people with a history of asthma might have to deal with it the rest of their lives. However, some people experience less frequent or a complete disappearance of their symptoms as they grow older.

6. It Can Be Properly Managed:

Every asthmatic patient needs to have an action plan in place. What this means is that they must see a doctor, who will personalize their treatment to suit their symptoms. The goal is usually to lower attacks to a minimum by avoiding triggers as much as possible, and by using inhaled corticosteroids and beta-agonists.

When properly managed, asthmatics can lead a very normal life and participate in almost any activity.

This is a guest post by Dr. Charles-Davies of 25doctors.com.
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