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Most of you may not think of asthma as a killer disease, yet more that 5,000 Americans die of asthma each year. According to the Mayo Clinic web page, asthma also accounts for more that 400,000 hospital discharges annually. As the number of people with asthma increases, the more likely you are to come in contact with a person who has the disease. As far as I can remember, I have had asthma my whole life. My mother and one of my sisters also have asthma, so I have a first hand experience with it. This morning, I will discuss some interesting facts about asthma, I will specifically focus on what it is, warning signs, symptoms, causes, and the treatments that are used.
What it is
Asthma is best described by its technical name: Reversible Obstructive Airway Disease (ROAD). In other words, asthma is a condition in which the airways of the lungs become either narrowed or blocked. The results are usually temporary but they cause shortness of breath, breathing trouble, wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest. To know what it really feels like to have asthma, I would like everyone to pick up the straw that’s on their desk and put it in their mouth as if they were using it to drink something. Then, pinch your nose. Try breathing for twenty seconds. A real attack can last up to more than 10 minutes and you are only doing it for 20 seconds. If we had more time, I would have the class go to a stairwell and have you run up and down and see what it is like to have asthma while doing other activities.
Asthma symptoms can range from mild to very severe. A person may experience only occasional severe episodes one time and then experience frequents mild episodes. According to the book, Living Well With Asthma, there are four main symptoms of an asthma attack. Since an attack can be so overwhelming and frightening, it may be difficult to know what’s going on inside of a persons body. Here are the major elements of an asthma attack:
-Shortness of breath=described as tightness of the chest. Some people have trouble breathing during exercise, others experience it after inhaling smoke, while others need to ingest a particular food-regardless of the circumstance, all people with asthma have trouble breathing.
-Wheezing=not all people will asthma wheeze, but many do.
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-Coughing=just like the wheezing sound, the symptom of coughing make asthma visible to other people. In asthma, the cough can be a result of excessive secretion or the spasms of the muscles surrounding the airways.
-Mucus production=phlegm, spit, mucus, junk-call it what you want, most asthmatics have more that their share of this stuff. It can make sleeping, swallowing, talking and simply breathing difficult.
According to the book, Taking Charge of Asthma, there are four main warning signs to decided if you may have asthma.
1.) Are you breathing properly, using the muscles of your diaphragm or do you use several accessory muscles to breath such as lifting you shoulders and over working your chest?
2.)Can you complete a fairly long sentence or short story without drowning for an extra breath? If not, shortness of breath may be caused by asthma-related breathing problems.
3.)Do you have a rapid pulse? Of course, many things may speed up a pulse, including caffeine and medications but not having enough oxygen will also make your pulse race.
4.)Do you wheeze audibly? Is your breathing heavy and raspy or light and mild? If music plugs are blocking your airways, you will wheeze and you may have asthma.
If you experience 3 of these 4 symptoms, you are probably suffering from asthma or some other lung disease.
The National Heart, Lungs, Blood Institute published an article stating that, a person is more likely to develop asthma if they have an inherited predisposition to the condition and are sensitive to allergens. In fact, the inflammation that causes asthma make your airways overly sensitive to many environmental triggers. In most cases, asthma can result from a combination of allergic and no allergic responses. Some triggers include:
-allergens such as pollen and mold
-smoking and second hand smoke
Asthma can develop at any age, even well into the age of 70. Anyone younger than 30, is most likely to develop asthma from triggered allergies. For adults with asthma, exposure to an irritant such as cigarette smoke, cold air, and even stress can make the asthma worse.
It is important to remember that there is no cure for asthma, Although asthma can’t be cured it can be controlled. There are many medicines that help people with asthma. Some are preventive medicines and others are known as quick relievers. Preventives are used for long-term control of the disease and work to make asthma attacks less frequent and less severe. Quick relievers medicines offer short-term relief of symptom when asthma episodes occur.
One main treatment to lessening the effects of asthma is the use of inhalers. Inhalers have transformed asthma treatment. They enable people with asthma to deliver medicine directly to their lungs almost anytime , anyplace. Inhalers are hand-held portable devices that deliver medication to the lungs. Medication is pushed out of the inhaler by a propellant. This is the most common type of treatment that is used.