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Asthma Facts and Statistics

The rate of people with asthma is steadily increasing in developed countries as our air, water, and food become more polluted with chemicals.Asthma is a severe allergic reaction in which the bronchial tubes in the lungs swell and become blocked with mucous and in which the membranes lining the inner walls of the air passages become inflamed, causing the airways to narrow and making it difficult to breathe. This disease affects roughly 17 million Americans. Five million of those affected are under the age of 18, making asthma the most common chronic childhood disease. That means that roughly 1 in 20 people out of the general American population and 1 in 10 children currently suffer from this incurable disease with 14 people dying daily from asthma. Over the past decades these figures have been steadily increasing in the US and in other developed countries as our air, water, and food become more polluted with chemicals, as infants are weaned and introduced to solid foods at an earlier age, as food additives increase, and as plants are genetically manipulated to form foods that have a higher allergic potential.

Symptoms of asthma may include recurrent attacks of breathlessness, wheezing when breathing out, a dry cough, excessive mucous production, increased levels of eosinophils in the blood and increased serum IgE levels (as determined through laboratory testing), positive food and/or inhalant allergy tests (also determined through testing), and a feeling of tightness in the chest. During a severe attack symptoms may also include sweating, a rapid heart beat, distress and anxiety, an inability to sleep or speak, discoloration of the face, rapid breathing and loud wheezing. Such attacks may be fatal and medical attention should be sought immediately.

Many things can trigger an asthma attack. Some common offenders include:

    Animal dander, fur and/or feathers may trigger an asthma attack.
  • Animals - dander, fur, feathers, cockroaches
  • Plants - Pollen, molds & fungi
  • Dust - dust & dust mites
  • Environmental pollutants - pollutants, fumes, tobacco smoke, chemicals (15% to 20% of adult-onset asthma is caused by occupational exposure to chemicals such as chlorine and ammonia), certain medications (especially aspirin and beta-blockers)
  • Food allergies - only about 5% of asthma symptoms are aggravated by food allergies, the most common food allergies are to the additives MSG (monosodium glutamate) and to sulfites
  • Medical Disorders - Adrenal disorders, anxiety, low blood sugar, stress, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease may cause asthma by spilling acid into the airways triggering a hyperreactive response), Sinusitis or respiratory disease
  • Changes in temperature - cold air, thunderstorms, extremes in dryness or humidity
  • Exercise - 40% to 90% of people suffer from a type of asthma that is triggered only by exercise and is distinct from ordinary allergic asthma, this type of asthma occurs most frequently during intense exercise in cold, dry air; people with exercise-induced asthma may also suffer from allergic asthma
  • Hormonal changes - 30% to 40% of women with asthma experience fluctuations in the severity of their asthma attacks shortly before and/or during their menstrual cycles

Those at the highest risk for asthma are children and those over the age of 65. In general, asthma begins in childhood (with most children having their first attack before the age of 5) and clears up or becomes less severe by the age of 21. However, asthma can develop at any age and is most common among adults with allergic or a genetic tendency towards a supersensitive immune system.

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Asthma Diseases

Adult-onset asthma often develops following a respiratory infection or a disease such as bronchitis or sinusitis.Intrinsic asthma most often develops during adulthood and has no apparent external cause (such as an allergy). This type of asthma often develops following a respiratory infection or disease such as bronchitis or sinusitis. This type of asthma is generally triggered by changes in the weather, by exercise, by stress and by anxiety, and by exposure to toxic chemicals.

Extrinsic asthma is an allergic condition and can be detected by an increased in of serum IgE (an allergic antibody) in the body. This type of asthma is generally triggered by a respiratory infection (cough, cold, bronchitis, etc.), by exercise (esp. in cold air), by tobacco or by other air pollutants, or by an allergy to a particular food or drug.

Another disease, called cardiac asthma, shares many of the same symptoms as the other types of asthma but is caused by heart failure.

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Asthma Prevention and Treatment Strategies

Our Asthma Self-management Program will give you additional nutrient and lifestyle. We also include the Center for Disease Control Framework for Asthma Prevention and Control to help you understand on a large scale what the government is doing.

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