May is asthma awareness month. Asthma is a chronic disease that has no known cure and affects nearly 23 million Americans every year. It is a very common ailment that accounts for more than 2 million visits to the emergency room and over 14 million trips to the doctor’s office annually. Among children, it is estimated that the disease affects an astonishing 1 in 10 kids.
It is sad that many of those who suffer from asthma still need to remind us that they are out there, suffering. While we funnel billions into research for other chronic ailments, asthma is still treated using traditional methods.
Asthma has no cure. It is a disease that presents itself as an inflammation of the lungs. This inflammation can be agitated by a broad variety of environmental factors. These can include pollen, allergies, physical exertion, stress, excitement, anxiety and more.
When the condition is agitated, patients experience shortness of breath and great difficulty breathing because the air passages in the body swell and narrow. This restricted airflow can present a range of difficulties, from temporary discomfort to hospitalization and even, in severe cases, death.
We are, as a society, still in denial about asthma. Many films and television series and a lot of literature even make light of the illness. We view it as an inconvenience rather than the serious disease it is. This is a major problem. Many who have the disease live in denial out of embarrassment.
Nobody likes to admit they get short of breath when something makes them laugh, after all. These men and women simply adapt their lifestyle to avoid triggering attacks. Lifestyle changes, of course, are a good idea for those with the disease. However, until we build awareness of the problem, newer treatments will never be discovered or developed.
Treatment of asthma is often achieved using the well-known bronchodilator inhaler. There are other potential treatments such as oral medications, nebulizers and breathing machines. The type of treatment used depends on the severity of the condition and what best works to control an individual patient’s symptoms.
Usually the drugs used, regardless of the delivery method, are anti-inflammatories designed to reduce the pain, swelling and obstructions in the lungs and airways and allow patients to breathe more easily and regularly. This also increases comfort by reducing tightness in the chest. In severe cases, steroids such as Prednisone can be used.
What You Can Do
Learn about the disease, be aware and spread the word! There are many resources on the Web that you can use to educate yourself and others. Organizations such as the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the National Heart and Lung Foundation, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and even the Environmental Protection Agency that have resources about the illness and its effects on the public.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have asthma, seek treatment immediately. We are here to help. Give us a call for a consult and to start a plan of action today.