Facts About Asthma
Asthma is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of the lungs, which can restrict airways,
causing shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing.  Less severe cases of asthma can result in fatigue and
difficulty concentrating.  Asthma can be brought on by allergies, exercise, cold temperatures, infections or
stress.  Asthma is not curable, but can be well managed through medications and by avoiding harmful
environmental factors that may trigger an attack.  It is very important to minimize the inflammation of
asthma, since chronic inflammation weakens the lings and can make them prone to chronic lung disease.

How do I know if it is asthma?

In order to control asthma, you have to recognize it.  Asthma symptoms often match those of routine
childhood illnesses, and there is no test to diagnose asthma in children under the age of five.  Children with
asthma do not always wheeze or have obvious attacks.  Recurrent nighttime or early morning coughing can
be a sign of asthma, as well as rapid or noisy breathing, or frequent bronchitis or pneumonia.  Sometimes
the only clue is that a child cannot keep up with friends during physical exertion.  If your child shows signs
of asthma, remain watchful even if a doctor rules out the disease.  Seek a second opinion if symptoms
continue.

What to do if you suffer from asthma

About 50 percent of adults with asthma exhibit allergic responses.  Avoidance of triggers that lead to asthma
attacks is as much a priority as treatment for the disease.  Asthmatic and allergen triggers include:

•        tobacco smoke

•        air pollution

•        dust mites (microscopic animals that live in dust)

•        cockroaches and their droppings

•        viruses

•        mold

•        animal dander (small particles from fur, hair feathers or skin

•        sulfites (chemicals used in some soft drinks and processed foods

Prevention

To prevent asthma attacks and lower the triggers in your home and environment, important steps can be
taken to make your personal environment allergy-free.

Pets - Keep pets outside if possible or confine them to carpet-free areas outside of your bedroom.  Washing
cats and dogs once a week can reduce allergens.  There are dry shampoos available that remove allergens
from skin and fur and are easy to administer.

Air filters and vacuum cleaners - Air cleaners, filters for air conditioners, and vacuum cleaners with
HEPA filters can help remove particles and small allergens found indoors.  It is best for allergy and asthma
sufferers to avoid carpets if possible.

Bedding and curtains - Using semi-permeable coverings to fully encase mattresses and pillows is an
effective step in reducing dust mite levels in your bedroom.  Curtains should be replaced with shades or
blinds ans bedding washes using the highest temperature setting.

Other recommendations - Dampness increases the risk of asthma.  Keep humidity levels in your house
below 40 percent.  Electric stoves should replace gas stoves, which release nitrogen dioxide.  Cockroaches
should be eliminated by professional exterminators.  

Outdoor prevention - Camping and hiking trips should not be scheduled during times of high pollen
counts.  Asthma sufferers should avoid strenuous activity when ozone levels are highest.  Also, asthma
sufferers allergic to mold should avoid barns, hay, raking leaves and mowing grass.  Automobile fumes and
fungi in car air conditioners can also be a problem.

Avoid certain drugs - Aspirin and products containing aspirin can cause life-threatening asthma attacks in
susceptible individuals.  Use acetaminophen as an alternative to aspirin and aspirin-related products.

Senate’s Asthma Reporting Law

A new law requiring hospitals to reports the incidence of asthma among emergency room patients is
designed to help health officials better understand and track the disease, and to improve medical treatment.  
Researchers hope to get a better idea of when asthma attacks, with the goal of linking the disease to other
environmental factors, such as weather and pollution levels.
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