Asthma – What is in the Air You Breathe?

According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2014, 7.7% of people in the United States had asthma. That equates to over 24 million people with the chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways.

That same year, 3,651 deaths occurred with asthma as the underlying cause. The condition annually causes millions of missed school and work days, and countless doctor, hospital and emergency room visits. The annual cost of asthma to the nation is estimated at over $50 billion.

Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and coughing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning. During an asthma attack, the sides of the airways in the lungs swell and the airways shrink. Less air gets in and out of the lungs, and mucous that the body makes clogs up the airways even more.

Although asthma affects people of all ages, it most often starts during childhood. The CDC states that people with asthma have it all the time, but they will only have asthma attacks when something bothers their lungs. An asthma attack can happen when a person with the condition is exposed to an asthma trigger or triggers. One person’s triggers can be very different from those of someone else, so knowing those triggers and learning how to avoid them is important.

Some of the common triggers listed by the CDC include tobacco smoke, dust mites, outdoor air pollution, cockroach allergen, animal dander, mold, pollen, smoke from burning wood or grass, and breathing in some chemicals. Fortunately, there are indoor environmental tests available to identify many common asthma triggers that could be in people’s homes, schools or work environments.

People can control their asthma by knowing the warning signs of an asthma attack and staying away from the triggers that cause an attack. They should follow their doctor’s advice and take any medicines as instructed.