As summer draws to an end, asthma season approaches quickly. We think you’ll agree that living with asthma is something to be avoided at all costs. It turns out that an estimated 34.1 million adults in America suffer from lifetime asthma. In addition, almost 9 million children under the age of 18 are also suffering.
That’s 13% of the US population.
I’m sure you’ve heard of asthma, but do you really know what it is? Those suffering from the disease can tell you that an asthma attack is very similar to feeling as though you are drowning.
The ancient Greeks were the first to use the term “asthma.” The physicians defined it as breathless or gasping for air and believe that it could be cured with a few lifestyle and diet changes. We now know that this is not the case, but we will get into treatment options later. It turns out that there are two types of asthma: allergic (extrinsic) asthma and non-allergic (intrinsic) asthma.
Here is what you need to know:
- Allergic (Extrinsic) Asthma: This is triggered by an allergic reaction to an inhaled substance such as dust, pollen, mold, chemicals, animals, allergic reactions to foods, etc.
- Non-allergic (Intrinsic) Asthma: This type of asthma is triggered by factors not related to allergies such as exercise, anxiety, depression, cold or dry air, etc.
When it comes to symptoms, they are the same for both forms of asthma. This includes coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. About 90% of asthma cases are caused by extrinsic asthma, but that doesn’t mean intrinsic asthma attacks are any less serious. Unfortunately, either type of asthma can be life threatening.
So what happens when someone experiences an asthma attack?
The smooth muscles around the bronchial tubes tighten up and become inflamed, thus causing a further narrowing of the tubes. At the same time, the lungs are producing excess mucus that in turn fills up the narrowed spaces where air should be flowing. As it becomes more difficult for air to pass in and out of the lungs, oxygen levels decrease in both the blood and the brain. This is when most people begin to panic because while they know that they need to breathe to stay alive, their biological reaction is preventing them from breathing properly and oxygenating their body. During this time, their lips begin to turn blue and the drowning feeling starts to overwhelm them.
What can be done to prevent this from occurring?
It turns out that some people are simply born with a predisposition toward developing asthma. However, what actually triggers the disease will vary from person to person. Common triggers include:
- Tobacco smoke
- Air pollution
- Allergens from animals and insects
- Abrupt weather changes
- Food sensitivities
- Biological contaminants such as mold and viral infections
- Over-the-counter medications such as blood pressure drugs, aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen
In addition to these daily triggers, babies whose mothers smoked during their pregnancies are more likely to be born with smaller airways and are twice as likely to develop asthma as those whose mothers didn’t smoke.
Living with asthma: how to protect those suffering
If you or a loved one is suffering from asthma, make a conscious effort to prevent attacks from happening. Once you make these few adjustments there is no doubt you, or someone you care about, will start to feel better:
- Don’t smoke and stay away from those who do
- Keep home humidity levels between 30% and 50%. High humidity levels can promote the growth of mold, which can in turn trigger allergic (extrinsic) asthma
- Install high-efficiency furnace filters and replace them monthly. If using electrostatic furnace filters, clean them monthly
- Allergen-proof mattress covers and pillowcases do not provide complete protection, but they are better at controlling dust than nothing at all
- Use a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner and empty its contents outside
- If you have pets (which is not prudent for asthmatics) at the very least keep them out of the bedrooms of family members with asthma. Also, use the best quality HEPA room air cleaner you can afford in their bedroom
- Clean the drapes and blinds often
- Become aware of reactions to food. The most common asthma triggering foods are grains, dairy, corn, soy, and various flours
How we can help
No one can guarantee that any allergy treatment will work for you. But, in our clinic, we have found that there is a way to treat the symptoms associated with allergies and sensitivities that trigger asthma. We do this by reducing the biological stress caused by the offending substances. In turn, this reduces the asthma episodes and allows a person with asthma to lead a completely normal life. The goal is to eliminate the need for a lifestyle structured around avoidance and fear.
We have found that AAT, Advanced Allergy Therapeutics, retrains the body so that it no longer reacts inappropriately when in contact with an offending allergen. This treatment is safe, painless, effective and yet gentle enough for infants and seniors. As in all forms of healthcare, there are no guarantees; however, a high percentage of our patients respond favorably to the treatment on a long-term basis. People suffering from asthma should be able to enjoy life, and breath without fear of trigger a frightening, life-threatening asthma attack.
To get on a path to a life without asthma, set up an appointment with Dr. Ian Wahl today!
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- Common Asthma Myths: http://bit.ly/2utussH
- Allergy Relief: http://www.dropcropp.com/
- Asthma in America, Asthma Statistics: http://bit.ly/1THYLkh
- NIH Fact Sheet, Asthma: http://bit.ly/2eKEDUp
- The Myths of Asthma: http://bit.ly/2tGjfGx
- 10 Tips for Easy Breathing This Fall: http://bit.ly/2vFBpFK
- Asthma Types and Classifications: http://bit.ly/2uwMp87