By Nurse Diane
A few years ago, a friend of mine, my doctor, had an asthma attack. It was so severe that he was flown to Jackson to the hospital and put in ICU. He did not survive this attack. He was a young man, in his 40's, a well-known physician, married to a nurse.
According to worldasthmaday.org, World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, 300 million people suffer from asthma and it’s the most common chronic disease among children. WHO also notes that asthma affects people in all countries around the world regardless of development although most deaths occur in lower income countries.
Asthma is a chronic disease of the air passages (or bronchial) that lead to and from the lungs that makes breathing difficult. Usually there is inflammation, which results in a temporary narrowing of the passages that carry oxygen to the lungs.
Symptoms vary from person to person and in intensity, but generally include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure. Asthma sufferers often have recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing. Symptoms may occur several times a day or week and may become worse during physical activity or during the night.
During an attack, the lining of the bronchial tubes swells, causing airways to become narrow and reducing the flow of air in and out of the lungs. These attacks can cause sleeplessness, fatigue, reduced activity and absenteeism from work or school.
The basic causes of asthma are not completely understood, but risk factors for developing the disease include a genetic predisposition along with exposure to particles and substances that irritate the air passages and cause allergic reactions. Some irritants include dust in furnishings, pets, tobacco smoke, chemicals and air pollution.
Other causes include physical exercise, medications (aspirin and beta blockers), cold air and even emotional reactions such as stress, anger and fear.
Today is World Asthma Day. World Asthma Day is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma with a goal to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. For ways you can help get the news out about asthma, visit this site: http://worldasthmaday.org/support/