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The Reality of Asthma

Posted Apr 24th, 2012 by Pat Brown
Medical terminology such as inflammatory, bronchiole spasms, airway constriction,and obstruction are not the words that create a visual image of the helpless fear called asthmato the average person. The average person knows that a serious asthma attack means death in amatter of moments without proper treatment or medication. What is more terrifying is if a deathoccurs, there is a higher chance the victim will be a child. Unlike diabetes or hypertension, aperson cannot experience what it feels like to manage high or low blood sugar or high or lowblood pressure unless they have the disease but asthma is the kind of disease that brings aboutuniversal feelings of panic that anybody can experience whether they have asthma or not.

If watching an asthma attack is not scary, enough for you then understanding what it feelslike might make you humble. Imagine yourself lying on the floor with a 75 lb kid sitting on yourchest for 15 minutes or somebody holding your face down on your mattress for 20 minutes whileyou are trying to breathe. The lack of air exchange in the lung compromises oxygen intakethen the lungs begin to hurt and all the faces of the people in horror movies that died from chestwounds flash through your mind.

So how do we move from that sick feeling in the emotional pit of our stomach to reality?First, we have to grasp an understanding of asthma. What is asthma and where did it comefrom? Asthma is an allergic reaction in the lungs to a respiratory irritant sometimes referredto as a foreign pollutant or allergen and people do not have to have the diagnosis of asthma tohave an allergic response. The irritant causes swelling in the air passages that make it difficultto breathe. The lack of oxygen demonstrated is a bluish tint to the skin or ashy color, like theperson has seen a ghost. The normally quiet, unnoticed sign of breathing becomes a high-pitched whistle called wheezing, this means air is hard to get in and hard to get out. Asthmaexperts believe asthma is more likely a disease of industrialized countries although anyonesensitive to an allergen can have an attack. Statistical data on asthma indicates that yearly it iscostly, deadly, and affects millions of people across the globe.

What the average person may not know about asthma is it is not what kids get andgrow out of when they get older. Although it is true that more kids have asthma than adultsdo, asthma can affect adults that never had it as children. Adult onset asthma is usuallyenvironmental from exposure to chemicals, dust mites, and fumes at work. Cold, stress,exercise, mold, pollen, pesticides, and smoke can bring on an asthma attack. Allergic responsestriggered are in people sensitive to pollutions and other forms of airborne particles. Simplethings like hairspray, perfume, and aerosol cleaners can cause shortness of breath and trigger anallergic response. Asthma complications occur from inflamed sinuses and nasal passages, andcolds, flu, and respiratory infections make asthma worse. Other asthma triggers include secondhand smoke, pet-lovers, and tobacco smokers.

References:
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(2011). Association between severity of asthma and degree of chronic rhinosinusitis.
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About the author

Ms. Pat Brown MSN, APN, RN
Doctoral Candidate - RN for Luten Nursing Services and ADJ FCLTY at UOP

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