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Knowing Asthma, its Prevalence, Common Causes, and its Treatment

Updated on March 4, 2012

"You have wheezes all over you lung fileds", this is what you'll usually hear from a doctor when you seek consult when having as asthmatic attack. Asthma attacks can range from mild "difficulty of breathing" attacks to life threatening situations wherein a patient should be hook to a mechanical ventilator. So lets tackle asthma a little bit deeper. Asthma is described as a pulmonary disease characterized by airflow obstruction that could be reversed spontaneously and with treatment. Asthmatics have a wide range of triggers, like dust, pollution, perfume, pollen, etc, which could cause airflow limitation and in turn produce your symptoms like your wheezing and difficulty in breathing.

Prevalence of Asthma

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide and could impose a heavy burden both to the patient and to the economy. The current increase in asthma cases is due to urbanization of developing countries worldwide. Asthma can occur at any age but usually peaks at the age of 3 with male predominance in ;the early years. The sex ratio for asthma usually equalizes in the adult years. Death from asthma is usually rare due to the recent medical advancements for the disease, but if left untreated someone could have a serious morbidity or even die of asthma.

Common Causes of Asthma

There are a lot of possible etiologies for causing asthma, but Ill try to describe some of the common ones. There are endogenous factors causing asthma which includes, genetic predisposition, atopy, gender, airway hyperresponsiveness and a couple more. Children born to asthmatic parents or even with asthmatic relatives, can have a big probability of having the disease itself as it could be hereditary. Common triggers of asthma include your allergens for a person with a history of hypersensitivity reactions, respiratory infections, exercise (exercise-induced asthma), stress (so don't forget to relax), some drugs could cause asthma, and irritants like your household sprays and paint fumes. Environemental factors for asthma include passive smoking (so smokers please be mindful where you do your smoking), respiratory infections and occupational sensitizers. There are still a lot of asthma causes, but if you have one, its important to know what triggers it to be able to avoid it and decrease asthma attacks.

Treatment Options for Asthma

The main goal for treating asthma is to relieve a patient's symptoms and to avoid it from recurring again. There a couple of pharmacologic therapies for asthma but there are also non-pharmacological approaches in dealing with asthma. Pharmacologic therapies include your bronchodilators like your common salbutamol, which give rapid relief to acute symptoms by relaxing airways and reverse bronchoconstriction. Another group of pharmacologic therapies include your controllers like your steroids, antileukotrines, etc, which treat the underlying inflammatory process of asthma. A combination of both are needed for fast relief and control of asthmatic attacks. Non-pharmacologic approaches include, weight reductions for overweight asthmatics, avoidance of triggers/allergens, quit smoking for smokers, daily exercise etc. Asthma can be life threatening, so seek consult and don't underestimate the disease.

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