Allergy and Asthma

There are millions of people around the world who suffer from one or more forms of allergy. Allergies are caused by agents in the air, food, or animals, called allergens, and can create rashes, inflammation, and sneezing on patients who are highly sensitive to them. In some cases, allergies can cause anaphylactic shock, for hypersensitive individuals, and causes the deaths of hundreds per year.

Asthma is one form of allergy that is related to the respiratory system. Asthma allergies are very common among young children. In fact, you can consider allergic asthma as a very popular disease, especially among children. Childhood asthma is one of the most common reasons why many children miss school. Asthma in children also as prevent them from performing sports or strenuous activities. It is much feared and nasty chronic disease.

Causes of Asthma

What Causes Asthma? This disease involves the airway of the respiratory system to get blocked due to the excessive amount of mucus, thereby contracting airway and reducing the path open to the air supply. It can trigger continuous cough and other discomforts to breathing. This cannot be considered as an allergy but it has a lot of triggering conditions. The various triggering conditions can include the exposure to natural stimulants like moist, warm and cold air and dusty conditions. Children are more prone to asthma where a simple flu can trigger the disease and continue there on. People with asthma are highly sensitive to inhaled allergens, like dust, pollen, or animal dander.

Asthma Statistics

The American Lung Association stated in 2005 that over 5,000 asthma deaths occur every year. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, there are around 20 million people in the United States with this condition. This roughly translates to about one out of every four people who are diagnosed with asthma. Parents who have a history of asthma are 40% likely to have children who will inherit the condition, as stated by New England Journal of Medicine.

Symptoms of Asthma

The signs of asthma can include difficulties in breathing, unremitting cough like in bronchitis, wheezing, and tightness or pain in chest and shortness of breath. These conditions occur because the air passages, like the trachea and the bronchi of the lungs are inflamed or flooded with mucus, as caused by an inhaled allergen. Even though some treatments can give some relief, the patients could feel suffocation and shortness of breath after exertion and exercises. This shows the disease is not completely cured. Some other signs that should warn people of early stages of asthma are trouble sleeping, fatigue and shortness of breath after some activities, and frequent allergy signs like colds and sneezing.

Asthma Attacks

The symptoms of asthma vary from patients to patients. Most of the symptoms are common and they include impairment of respiratory organs and patient triggered by any thing from smoke to a physical exercise. An aggravated stage of asthma is referred as an asthma attack. The onset of this might be sudden starting from tightness of chest and lack of breath. This lack of oxygen can even turn the patient to a light blue color during very severe attacks. This can cause rapid heart rate and severe contraction of tissues. A prolonged severe asthma attack can make the patient unconscious and there could be chances of feeling stiffness in limbs. An asthma attack is quite dangerous since it can arrest the respiratory system and lead to a sudden death.

Asthma Classification

Asthma is broadly classified into two types: allergy induced asthma or extrinsic asthma and non-allergic or intrinsic asthma.

Extrinsic or Allergic Asthma

More than 90% of asthma patients have allergic asthma. Allergic asthma is triggered by allergens like dust, mite, pollens etc. Most childhood asthma is extrinsic in nature.

Intrinsic or Non-Allergic Asthma

Asthma which is non-allergic is called "intrinsic". It may also be loosely called adult asthma as intrinsic asthma mainly develops in adults, its typical onset usually occurring after the age of 40. This type of asthma responds less to medications and treatments compared to allergic asthma. Possible triggers of intrinsic asthma include respiratory irritants such as deodorants or perfumes , cleaning agents, exposure to moist and cold air fumes and smoke, respiratory infections, and gastro esophageal reflux (GERD).

It is further divided into a number of different types of asthma:

Nocturnal Asthma

Although its called nocturnal, it affects people when they are sleeping, regardless of the time of day. Nocturnal asthma is triggered by allergens in the bedroom (in bed sheets, mattress, curtains, carpets etc), and also by a decrease in room temperature. Effect of this asthma tend to be their worst between midnight and early morning. About 75% to 80% of asthma patients suffer from this form of the disease.

Occupational Asthma

Occupational asthma develops as a result of the patient's work environment. Exposure to chemical fumes, wood dust or other allergens over long periods of time causes this asthma.

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Even non-asthmatic people sometimes experiences exercise-induced mild asthma. It mostly occurs when a person performs strenuous exercise and is caused due to the loss of heat and moisture in the lungs

Steroid-Resistant Asthma

Overuse of asthma medications especially steroids, can lead to Steroid Resistant Asthma. When a person has this form of acute asthma, the body doesn't respond to any medications and may require mechanical processes to reverse. Thus asthma medicines should only be taken as prescribed.

Asthma Diagnosis

The diagnosis of asthma is a difficult task. Usually a physician diagnoses asthma depending on the history of the patient. Asthma is found to be hereditary, and also a person subjected to allergic conditions and suffering from eczema is also prone to have developed asthma. A scan and check up can reveal the narrowing of airway and accumulation of mucus. Another asthma test include the measurement of airway, however this is not possible in the case of children. In adults this measurement is made possible with the help of a peak flow meter.

Treatment for Asthma

There are several procedures and medications used to help manage asthma. However, treatments of asthma are said to be for life or long-term, as there is no definite cure for ridding oneself of asthma. Over the counter asthma products such as Asthma Inhalers are the most commonly prescribed medications. Other prescribed medicines are corticosteroids and bronchodilators. Some other examples of asthma drug names are triamcinolone, flunisolide, cromolyn sodium, nedrocromil, and beclomethasone. The drugs commonly prescribed for children with asthma are Prelone and Predipred.

Since there are no absolute cures for asthma, it can only be treated to prevent further attacks and to alleviate the asthma symptoms which includes tightness of breath and trouble with breathing. Correct method of an asthma treatments include finding out the triggering methods of the disease in that particular individual. After finding out this, it can be prevented by removing those triggers.

Smoking is considered to adversely affect respiratory diseases like asthma. Patients, who are smokers or those in the proximity of dust and smoke, need extra medication to control the disease.

Asthma Exercise:

There are a number of yoga exercise which help to open your airways and help provide asthma relief. It should be kept in mind that exercises consisting of heavy physical exertion should be avoided as this may cause difficulties in breathing and also may trigger a severe asthma attack.

Asthma Prevention or Asthma Control

Since there are no definite method for treating asthma, its important to control it. There are ways of preventing future asthma attacks, by avoiding contact with the known allergens. It is advised to that the house should be dusted and cleaned every week, while using a face mask. Carpeting or other flooring should be replaced when wear and tear are apparent. Frequently change bed sheets, pillow cases, mattress covers, and towels, and launder them in hot water.

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