Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Asthma - What You Should Know

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Asthma is a chronic disease in the airways that can make breathing very difficult. When a person has asthma, there is an inflammation in the air passages that can result in a temporary narrowing in the airways that carry the oxygen to the lungs. When this occurs, asthma symptoms begin to appear. Some of the first signs of asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.

Although there are a lot of treatments for asthma symptoms, it is still a potentially dangerous disease that affects more then 22 million people. Most people who have some kind of treatment are able to live well with asthma, but those who don't receive treatment can find it difficult to be active and perform exercises.

Those who suffer from asthma experience airway obstruction. When normal breathing occurs, the bands of muscles that surround the airways are able to relax and allow the air to move freely. When people have asthma, the allergy triggers make the bands of muscles that surround the airways tighten up and the air is not able to move freely. When there is less air, this causes the person to feel short of breath. People who suffer from asthma also experience inflammation in the bronchial tubes, which causes them to be red and swollen. The inflammation that occurs in the bronchial tubes is thought to contribute to long term damage in the lungs.

People with asthma have airways that are very sensitive and the airways can overreact and become narrow from small triggers like animal dander, dust, fumes or pollen. Some of the causes and triggers for asthma include certain infections like sinusitis, flu and colds. Allergens are also a big trigger and can be from pollens, pet dander, dust mites and mold spore. Even irritants from strong smelling aromas like perfume or cleaning solutions can trigger asthma. Sometimes, other external causes can be exercise, changes in the weather, having strong emotions, medications and other allergens.

People who have asthma attacks generally have similar symptoms that they can recognize. When an asthma attack is occurring, the airways tighten up, swell or even fill up with mucus. Coughing is a common symptom, along with wheezing, shortness of breath and tightening of the chest, pain of the chest or pressure. People who are treated for asthma can learn to manage the disease, but those who are not can be causing damage to their airways and body by not taking care of the disease. Asthma can be diagnosed by a doctor, so if you feel like you may have asthma, you should consider being evaluated for it and follow the proper treatments that are given.

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