Understanding Asthma and How It Affects You

Graphic of Asthma and the LungsAccording to information published by the American medical community, more than 16 million of adults and almost 7,000,000 children in the United States suffer from asthma each and every year, with these figures getting larger and larger on an annual basis.

A chronic lung disease that affects the ability for air (and life critical oxygen) to reach the lungs – or to get out just as smoothly – asthma was responsible for almost a half a million hospitalizations in the state of Illinois alone per year, many of them critical and quite serious.

And, while modern medicine has gotten a lot better and effectively treating asthma, they are still aren’t any “cures” that work to completely destroy the causes of the disease in the human body that have been proven to be 100% effective yet.

Most solutions prescribed by doctors around the United States deal specifically with treating the most life-threatening symptoms of asthma, rather than diving deep and destroying the actual underlying issues that are causing these symptoms to present themselves in the first place.

But, that’s getting ahead of ourselves a little bit here.

What exactly is asthma, anyway?

It’s important to really break down how the lungs work (and how the human body breathes) to really understand what asthma is, why it is so dangerous, and what you can – and should – and do to clear things up as best you can.

By the time you’re done with this quick guide you should understand what asthma is, how it is caused, and what you can do to save your life (or the life of someone that you love) from potentially life-threatening attacks in the future.

How does oxygen get into our body in the first place?

Our respiratory system is easily one of the most important life sustaining systems in the human body, and is the sole way that weekend oxygen into our bodies coming to our blood, and into our core systems to keep ourselves happy, healthy, and (quite frankly) on life.

You see, our airways connect to our mouths and our noses to our lungs through a series of tubes that carry air both into and out of our lungs. The air that we pull in is filled with rich oxygen that our bodies need, and the air that we expel is filled with the byproduct of soaking that oxygen into our body – carbon dioxide and needs to be released back into the industry.

How does asthma attack our airways?

Unfortunately, when we are dealing with asthma, our tubes become inflamed, and that inflammation swells up the airways that we depend on and makes them quite sensitive. Even the slightest “attack” can cause these airways to constrict and remain constricted, essentially shutting our lungs and body off from the oxygen that we need.

As our airways constrict the muscles around them tighten considerably, and when that happens a thick mucus is discharged that “fills up the gaps” that air and oxygen would have otherwise passed through. This basically strangles us from the inside out.

Of course, if our bodies become accustomed to the inflammation over time – and if the mucus builds up so much so that we don’t even recognize the threat it poses – we may not even notice the symptoms of significant inflammation until it becomes life-threatening. And, unfortunately for many, by that time it’s too late.

For more information on asthma attacks, see mayoclinic.org.

Understanding asthma symptoms to be on the lookout for

Thankfully though, the overwhelming majority of folks living with asthma are going to be pretty aware of the issue right off of the bat. Even the slightest bit of physical exertion can cause a serious construction and inflammation of the passageways for air and oxygen, and that’s usually how children – and their parents – discover that something isn’t quite right.

At the same time, you’ll want to be on the lookout for the following symptoms of asthma to be sure that you know exactly when you’re dealing with an asthmatic episode:

  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing in and out after the slightest physical exertion
  • Uncontrollable coughing that seems to present itself almost out of nowhere
  • A shortness of breath that cannot be easily explained
  • Tightness in your chest and a feeling as though you are being strangled

What are the root causes of and common asthma “triggers” to be on the lookout for?

While there can be a tremendous amount of different causes and triggers that they spring your asthma into effect (triggers that may not cause the same symptoms and others), common ones you want to be on the lookout for include:

  • Cigarette and campfire smoke
  • Animal fur and dander as well as the feathers of some birds
  • Dust and mold as well as pollen and other environmental pollutants

… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

The important thing is to recognize if you’re dealing with an asthma attack and then to try and diagnose the situation at hand and figure out the causes and triggers that are most likely to threaten your health.

One of the best ways to help cut down on airborne particles that cause asthma to flare up is to place an air purifier inside your home and/or place of work. An air purifying machine removes many of the particulates from the air that irritate the lungs. There are several different types of air purifiers on the market and not all are designed to help specifically with asthma. To find out which ones, take a look at our article on finding the best asthma air purifier for continuous relief.

Asthma that is left untreated can be deadly. Here are a few facts for you to consider:

  • Asthma accounts for the most missed school days in children. Averaging 10.5 million days per year.
  • The costs associated with asthma are astronomical. 60 billion dollars are lost each year from the direct costs of health care and indirect costs associated with decreased productivity at work.
  • Each year, more than 1 million people visit the emergency room due to an asthma related condition

Additional facts related to asthma can be found at aafa.org.

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