Summary of Asthma

Introduction

Asthma is one of the most common respiratory disorders within people. Statistically speaking there are over 300 million people who have asthma and some of which are forced to use inhalers daily (C.Fanta, 2009). When an individual has asthma, it is diagnosed on the basis of knowledge that the airways become narrow which results in the inability to breathe properly. Unlike disorders such as Diabetes or Alcoholic lung disease of which have many linked factors that are highly accountable, obesity and poor diet for the former and over consumption of alcohol for the latter. Though with asthma, it is still largely unknown as to why an individual is diagnosed with asthma even with many studies all results are inconclusive. Recently a study out of The National Jewish Health Centre in Denver Colorado found some evidence linking lack of vitamin D as well as an overuse of air fresheners to cause increased cases of asthma (Nelson, 2009).

Summary of Disease

Asthma is simply known as a constriction of the airways when a person breathes and it is usually reversible with antibiotics known as inhalers. Though asthma may not go away completely, its effects on a person will only be periodically noticed if at all. I personally have asthma and do have inhalers though even with high humidity and intense bouts of exercise, I have only needed to use them several times over my lifespan. Many people will go undiagnosed with asthma as frequently as it is so minor that it does not hinder the person in any way. Those who do have asthma are known to experience episodes in which the airways become severely swollen and can lead to an asthma attack. In this dangerous but unfortunately common attack, severe asthma can be combated by taking inhalers or “puffers”. Though at times inhalers are not enough to regulate the airways and can be fatal due to respiratory arrest (Longmore, 2007).

Diagnosis

Asthma is diagnosed with an abundance of factors such as family history, amount of coughing or wheezing during exercise as well as allergies. Changes in weather, personal stress, sickness and other factors can help the doctor diagnose if asthma is more likely apparent within a person (Guilbert, 2009). There is the ability to measure the airway function in adults though this is not available within children as the body is still growing and developing (Guilbert, 2009). Furthermore, there is a peak flow meter which tests airway restriction which can be used once again only on adults and older children in their late teens (Guilbert, 2009).

Symptoms

Signs of asthma are quite universal though the degree of symptoms is what separates people on the mild to the extreme for being asthmatic. Symptoms such as a frequent coughing or having mucus within the cough known as phlegm; is a common sign of asthma though this can be mistakenly diagnosed as something else such as bronchitis or a 24 hour virus. The feeling of chest tightness, inability to fully breathe is the most common form of symptoms to those who haven't been diagnosed with asthma. At times the individual can even lose consciousness due to not being aware of this illness and having no inhalers on hand.

Treatment

Treatment for asthma is approximately 90% pharmaceutical treatment in which many individuals look to for relief. These products include inhalers or commonly known as puffers which hold medicine which literally “opens up” your airways and other pharmaceutical agents known as epinephrine pills in life or death situations. The avoidance of triggers such as animal fur ( cats and dogs) and not being outside during hot and humid days with smog alerts, will allow an asthmatic person to not endanger him/her self (Hollowell, 2007).

History of Asthma

The actual term asthma comes from the Greek word meaning to “sharply exhale” in which Hippocrates was the first to use the term as a medical meaning. Even though asthma was around in the Egyptian times in which a mixture of herbs would be burned and the person would inhale them. In ancient China they would give persons with asthma, herbs called ephedrine which was thought to assist the breathing. A philosopher in 1150 AD, was able to see a correlation of cold months along with sickness ( common cold) commonly brought on a person struggling to breathe compared to the dry months during the summer (WHO, 2007). In 1579 Jean Baptiste Van Helmont thought that asthma originated in the pipes of the lungs and in 1633 Bernardino Ramazzini saw the effects of exercise induced asthma (WHO, 2007). In the early 1930's it was thought to be psychologically related rather than physically though finally in the 1960's anti-inflammatory medication was used and was the stepping stone of what we have today.

Future of Asthma

Most people who are diagnosed with asthma have found great relief with either inhalers or other means to ensure they are safe from any asthma attacks or difficulty breathing. There is unfortunately a rise in asthma though there are no clear reasons as to why this is occouring, as most studies are inconclusive. There is a continued effort to find more efficient inhalers and medicines though the ones we have currently are fast acting and portable, but with anything it can be improved.

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