What Causes Asthma?
posted by The Allergy and Immunology Team | June 14, 2016
It’s estimated by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, that about 22 million people in the United States have asthma, a long-term disease that causes the airways to narrow and become inflamed. Of that number — or about six million — are children. Scientists are not sure exactly what causes asthma, though they believe that environmental and genetic factors work together to make some people more likely to have this chronic lung disease than others. Some common signs of asthma include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and tightening in the chest.
People with asthma have airways that are inflamed. Not only does this make them swollen, but they are more likely to be very sensitive to certain substances that are breathed in. This makes the muscles surrounding those airways tighten and causes the airways to narrow. In many people, mucus is formed by the airway’s cells which leads to further narrowing. This can lead to asthma symptoms such as:
reduced energy levels
feeling tired or weak
whistling or wheezing sound when breathing
22 million people in the United States have asthma, a long-term disease that causes the airways to narrow and become inflamed. Six million of those people are children.
Asthma can be triggered by a number of sources. Some of the most common are allergens, upper respiratory infections, environmental irritants, and exercise. Some medications, such as aspirin, can trigger an asthma attack while other people might be sensitive to sulfites in their foods and beverages.
Asthma affects people differently. Some people may experience only mild symptoms that eventually go away on their own or with minimal treatment. Other people could have symptoms that get worse and severe which requires them to seek treatment. If you think you or your loved one is having an asthma attack, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as you notice symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. Delaying treatment could result in an asthma attack becoming severe which could require emergency treatment. In some cases, severe asthma attacks can be fatal.
Working closely with your doctor to develop a treatment plan can help prevent your asthma symptoms from becoming worse. Avoiding those items that trigger an asthma attack is critical, but not always possible. Medications are categorized either as short- or long-term. While some of those medications can be taken in a pill form, most of the time they are inhaled through a device called an inhaler.
Inhaled corticosteroids are the most common way to treat asthma and reduce inflammation in the airways. Using a device called a spacer can help direct the medication toward your lungs. Short term medications minimize the flare-ups but shouldn’t be relied on for reducing the amount of inflammation in your lungs.
At Revere Health, we are central Utah’s premier medical care clinic. Whether you are concerned that you or your child has asthma or you have already been diagnosed and need help to better manage your condition, our allergy and immunology team can help improve your health.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.
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