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You can be diagnosed with asthma at any point in your life, and it has no favorites. More than 26 million Americans suffer from this condition, which adds up to 8.3% of adults and 8.3% of children.
The condition has been increasing in all age, gender, and racial groups since the early 1980s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and there is no cure for it. If you experience asthma, it’s important to control it carefully to prevent it from interfering with your everyday life and activities. Let’s take a look at the symptoms and causes of asthma, natural ways to manage it, and what the advantages can be of doing so.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of asthma is an important part of managing the condition. Many people deal with ongoing niggling respiratory issues without ever realizing they are actually experiencing asthma, which means they don’t treat the underlying problem until it gets to the point of diagnosis. How much more helpful would it be if you could detect the warning signs at an earlier stage?
Here are some of the most common according to the National Jewish Health network, which specializes in coordinated care for the immune system, heart, and lung disease:
In most instances, just experiencing one or two of these occasionally doesn’t necessarily mean you have underlying asthma, but if you experience several or many of them on an ongoing basis it might be worth consideration.
Once your asthma develops into a full-blown attack, however, you should have no trouble identifying what it is. Symptoms of an attack include severe wheezing with chest tightness or pressure, non-stop coughing, rapid breathing with feelings of anxiety or panic, and difficulty speaking because of retractions in the neck and chest muscles.
So, an asthma attack is not fun, and it can, in fact, be fatal if it’s left untreated. The majority of asthma cases are allergy-related, and since allergies are on the increase because of air pollution and our lifestyle, it’s no surprise asthma cases are also increasing. There’s a difference between asthma causes and asthma triggers, however, so we’re going to separate them out so as to understand each one.
The primary reasons why patients develop asthma include:
Additional risk factors that increase the chances of becoming asthmatic are a mother who smoked during pregnancy and the low-grade inflammation that often accompanies obesity. All of these put you at risk for potentially becoming an asthma patient, but they don’t necessarily apply to the severity of your condition.
People who are susceptible to asthma are likely to experience a flare-up or attack at times when they are exposed to certain triggers. Airborne substances, such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, particles of cockroach waste, and pollutants such as smoke are common triggers, particularly for anyone with an allergic reaction to these.
Certain types of medication, such as NSAIDs and beta blockers can trigger reactions, and even the food you eat could cause an attack if you’re sensitive to sulfites and preservatives that are found in items like shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, wine, and beer.
Cold air or strenuous physical activity can also trigger an attack, and so can developing an infection such as a cold or an episode of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).
Few of us are attracted to the idea of taking prescription drugs on a regular basis, especially for a chronic condition such as asthma. While you might need a shot of Ventolin to open your airways when you’re in the middle of an attack, it’s far more desirable to avoid the attack completely. This requires careful management of your condition, including identifying the underlying causes and understanding your triggers well enough to avoid them whenever possible.
Improving your lung health carries a range of benefits, such as the ability to be more active for longer, which contributes to blood circulation and brain function. This impacts both your physical and mental health, both of which are vital for a good quality of life.
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