Asthma might just be one of the best-known (respiratory) diseases in the world. This is not surprising when about 300 million people in the world suffer from it. The U.S. has about 25 million asthma patients – that’s 1 in 13 people. This disease can affect anyone, it doesn’t matter how old you are, what gender you are, or what your background is. We do see that the highest percentage of asthma cases are among the black (adult) population. This is why it’s incredibly important to be educated about this lung problem.
We all know the scene where someone – out of the blue – has trouble breathing and then quickly reaches for his inhaler to take a big gulp. However, do we actually know what asthma is? And what it does to your respiratory system? It’s time to jog your memory. Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease in which, over an indefinite period of time, the airways become inflamed, swollen, or narrowed – and may produce extra mucus. This makes it more difficult to exhale breath. As this is a chronic condition, most people suffer from this for the rest of their lives, but there are cases of children diagnosed with asthma early on who grow over the condition.
Triggers of Asthma
Unfortunately, there is no known cause for why people get asthma. Medical scientists suspect that it’s due to environmental factors in combination with hereditary factors. We do know that there are things that can trigger the disease. Do know this is different in each case, but we’ve listed the most common triggers below:
- Airborne allergens, like pollen and dust mites
- Physical activity, like sports and biking/walking to school or work
- Respiratory infections, like a cold or bronchitis
- Cold air
- Smoke and other air pollutants & irritants
- Stress & strong emotions
- Sulfites and preservatives added to foods & drinks
- GERD, a disease that pushes stomach acids back into the throat
Examples of foods that contain sulfites and preservatives that might trigger asthma symptoms are shrimps, dried fruit, beer, and wine. Of course, the picture painted earlier is absolutely correct, but it doesn’t always have to be so severe, which is why it’s good to know exactly what to look for to know if someone has asthma or is having an asthma attack.
Symptoms of asthma can be different in each case, so it could just be that you have a mild form of asthma, or in other words, you only suffer from it when you exert yourself during sports, when you experience a lot of stress, or work with air irritants like chemical fumes or smoke. It could also be that you have a much worse form of asthma, in which you experience asthma attacks several times a day and really can’t leave home without an inhaler.
Symptoms of Asthma
Most asthma patients experience the following signs and symptoms when they have or are about to get an asthma attack:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain and/or tightness
- Wheezing when breathe out
- Trouble sleeping
- Intolerance of (cigarette) smoke
- Feeling the change of seasons
- Lips and/or fingers turning blue
- Coughing and/or wheezing, which get worse when you suffer from a respiratory infection like the cold or flue
Some symptoms like the wheezing when exhaling are a bit more known in children, but are still possible when you’re an adult who suffers from this condition. When the above-mentioned symptoms are getting more frequent or more exasperating, it’s time to visit your professional healthcare provider to check if everything is still in the clear. In case you suffer from the above-mentioned symptoms, but aren’t diagnosed (yet) with asthma, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider asap.
As asthma is a chronic (long-term) respiratory condition, there is no cure for it. Fortunately, there are ways to make living with asthma much easier. Whether you want to use natural and/or home remedies, or don’t care at all; there are many options available, nowadays. Do know it’s very important to get diagnosed and set up a treatment plan, because if you don’t asthma can be life-threatening. Approximately 11 people die of asthma each year in the U.S. All of these deaths could have been prevented if the person had the right treatment plan.
There are several options to manage your asthma. Prescribed options are bronchodilators (inhalers), anti-inflammatory medication and biologic therapies. The goal of these treatments is to control the condition and its symptoms. By using these options, you probably will be able to exercise and or work without having asthma attacks – or symptoms. Another benefit is that it allows you to sleep a lot better. Natural remedies – best to use as complimentary therapies – are:
- Breathing exercises
- Chinese herbal medicine
- Manual therapy
- Dietary supplements
In addition, you can also add some foods and beverages to your diet, that are great for your respiratory system or reduce inflammation. These foods are: ginger, figs, garlic, honey, coffee, onions, and lemons. You may also benefit from using eucalyptus oil or other air purifiers in the home. Also consider bringing air-purifying houseplants into your home. These convert C02 to oxygen during the day and bring water vapor into the air, improving humidity in the home. Examples of these types of plants are: aloe vera, snake plant and ferns. It’s important to seek treatment options that suit you, that’s why you should always do your own online research. To make it easier for you, start your online search here: