Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the air passages, which is typically seen with varied and recurring symptoms, bronchospasms, and reversible airflow obstruction. The symptoms of this chronic inflammatory disease include coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath. According to the latest asthma information, it is believed to be caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors.
Normally, treatment of symptoms involves usage of an inhaled short-acting beta-2 agonist. Avoiding triggers, such as certain irritants and allergens, can be helpful in preventing symptoms or lessening their severity. Leukotrience antagonists are not as effective as corticosteriods, so they are not used as often. A diagnosis is made after observing the pattern of symptoms and response to therapy.
The number of people suffering from this condition has increased dramatically since the 1970s. According to our best known asthma information, approximately 300 million people suffer from it worldwide.
Although asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease, it is not a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease- this term refers to certain combinations of irreversible disease, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The obstruction of air passages in asthma is normally reversible, unlike the other conditions. If left untreated, the inflammation of the lungs in asthma can transition into an irreversible state, however.
Typical symptoms of this chronic inflammatory disease include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. The symptoms of this chronic inflammatory disease can be worse at night or early morning, or after exposure to cold air, or in response to physical exertion. Some sufferers experience symptoms only rarely; others may have severe and persistent obstruction of their air passages.
Sufferers also suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease about 80% of the time. The symptoms of both conditions can be quite similar. The mechanism of correlation is unknown at this time, but some suggest it could be due to certain commonly used drugs for asthmatics. According to modern asthma information, many of its symptoms are correlated with indoor allergens.
Modern home furnishings and housing styles tend to create an environment conducive to greater exposure to these types of allergens. This has brought attention to the increased exposure to indoor allergens in infants and young children. Reducing indoor allergens, in order to reduce the risk of developing asthma, has met with mixed results.
Some studies indicate a reduced risk for children up until the age of 8 years old, when allergens are reduced. Other studies give a contrary conclusion. For example, exposing children to pet allergens actually helped reduce the risk of chronic inflammatory disease, or asthma, later in life.
Treatments for Asthma
Commonly accepted asthma information recommends a structured, customized plan for managing and monitoring symptoms in a proactive manner. Sufferers should realize the importance of elmininating or reducing exposure to allergens which trigger their symptoms.
The treatment plan should be in writing and adjusted based upon any changes in symptoms. Triggers need to be identified. Things such as pet dander, cigarette smoke, or smog are known triggers for many sufferers. Medical treatments employed will depend upon the severity of symptoms and their frequency. Bronchodilators can provide some short-term relief of symptoms.
No other medication may be required for those who suffer from only occasional attacks. Low-dose glucocorticoid inhalers may be employed for those with more persistent symptoms. These are generally regarded by advocates of accurate asthma information as the most effective treatment for long term control of symptoms. The inhalers are normally used except when persistent symptoms require the oral version. Properly treated, this chronic inflammatory disease can be effectively treated in many cases.