Have you ever come across some young guy who starts wheezing when he visits someone who has a cat? Furthermore, some of you might have seen some old people who keep coughing and face difficulty in breathing. All these situations are indicative of the fact that these people are suffering from Asthma. An estimated 7-10 % of total world population is suffering from this disease and its prevalence in Western countries is far greater as compared to that in Eastern countries. In US alone, there are more patients of asthma than in most other countries in the world. Around 4,210 people die in United States every year due to this disease. Similarly, in United Kingdom, 5 % of the population is affected with this disease. Besides, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland also have huge number of Asthma sufferers.
Asthma is actually a chronic disease in which a person wheezes and finds it difficult to breathe because his airways become narrower due to inflammation and thus less air is passed to and from the lungs. Such a person is called “Asthmatic”.
When you see that a person nearby is wheezing, coughing and experiencing shortness of breath, he or she is most probably having an “Asthma attack”.
Which form of Asthma am I suffering from?
There are many criteria which are helpful in classifying asthma into different categories. These classifications are discussed below:
- Extrinsic or atopic asthma: As its name tells, symptoms are precipitated by foreign particles (allergens).
- Intrinsic or non-atopic asthma: Symptoms not precipitated by allergens but rather by some inner mechanism or factor that is present within in the body.
- Based on severity: Asthma can also be divided on the basis of severity such as mild, moderate and severe asthma. For instance Brittle Asthma is a severe form of Asthma which is further divided into two types; Brittle Asthma I and Brittle Asthma II. Both the types are severe with Asthma II corresponding to sudden exacerbations.
How do I identify the condition?
Some of the common symptoms of asthma are as follows:
- Breathlessness or difficulty in breathing
- Tightness of chest
Why am I suffering from Asthma?
The most important factor in determining the cause of Asthma is genetics and inheritance. A person whose parents or either of them is suffering from the disease is more likely to be Asthmatic as he grows up. Also, there are environmental factors that contribute to the chances of getting affected with the disease. Some of these factors and causes are discussed as under:
- Allergies: Children having allergies have greater chances of becoming Asthmatic.
- Respiratory Infections: Viral respiratory infections can trigger asthma.
- Medications: Some medications can bring about Asthma such as Beta Blocker Medications.
- Tobacco smoke: Tobacco smoke, like much other harm, can trigger Asthma. Not only smokers but passive smokers and babies of pregnant mothers are at stake due to tobacco smoke. Babies whose mothers smoke are more likely to develop this disease if their mothers smoked during the pregnancy.
- Stress: Recent studies suggest that stress can cause changes in immune system and thus a person gets vulnerable to the disease.
- Atopic Diseases: People who suffer from atopic diseases such as eczema and hay fever are more likely to get affected by Asthma.
Is Asthma curable?
Despite scientific advancements and technological era, asthma is not totally curable. However, it can be taken great care of and is a fully “controllable” disease, thanks to advancements in medical and natural science.
If you have asthma, you need not to worry much. You should go to your doctor as there are many long-term control and quick-relief medicines available in the market. Moreover, you must be able to identify those factors which worsen your asthma and simply avoid your exposure to such elements.