What Causes Asthma?

by Katelyn Schwanke
(last updated September 5, 2008)

Asthma is becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States. The rate has increased 75% for children alone in the last 30 years. Most diagnoses are made during childhood and research follows that trend to explain the increase in asthmatics nationwide. Despite the high pre-adolescent population, adults are susceptible as well. Adult asthma is often caused by environmental irritants (gas, chemicals, pollen or pet dander in the workplace or home) but pediatric asthma is found to be related to personal immunity. Mothers who breast feed and limit the number of heavily chemicals and sanitizers in their home help protect their children from asthma by providing immunity and the production of antibodies (the body's response to disease or illness). So what exactly is asthma?

Asthma is a respiratory disorder that causes tiny tubes in the lungs, called bronchioles, to become inflamed and covered in thick mucus as a result of the patient's exposure to some type of allergen or irritant (pet dander, grass, stress, exercise, gases or chemicals). As the bronchioles continue to produce mucus and become increasingly inflamed it makes it difficult for the patient to breath properly. During an asthma attack, an asthmatic may decrease their intake of oxygen by 75 percent. Symptoms include dizziness, coughing, wheezing, pale skin color, and "drawing in" (pulling the chest inward during inhalation in an attempt to breathe more effectively).

A properly diagnosed asthmatic should have access to a prescription bronchodilator. A bronchodilator is a medication that works to quickly reduce the inflammation of the bronchioles so that air can pass through properly. The bronchodilator specifically acts to dilate (widen the width) the bronchioles, acting similarly to a blood pressure medication. An asthmatic's doctor may also prescribe antihistamines. An antihistamine works to prevent the body from producing too many types of histamine that can cause an asthma attack.

Depending on what type of asthma the doctor diagnoses, an asthmatic may be advised to avoid strenuous exercise, reduce stress, avoid pets or decrease exposure to chemicals or gases in the workplace. Participating in moderate physical activity and changes in diet (avoiding shellfish, processed potatoes and alcohol) may also be necessary to control symptoms.

Although asthma cannot be cured, most asthmatics can, if properly treated, live with very few symptoms and extremely infrequent attacks. Speak to your doctor about what well controlled asthma should look like in your situation. Controlled asthmatics may have an attack now and again but will generally be able to carry on with exercise and other regular activities.

MORE FROM KATELYN

Dealing Constructively with Stress

Although it is virtually impossible to eliminate the stress associated with everyday life, it is easy to deal with it in a ...

Discover More

Living with Type 1 Diabetes

Understanding type 1 diabetes can make living with it much easier. Although type 1 diabetes is generally inconvenient, there ...

Discover More

Home Pregnancy Tests

If you suspect that you may be pregnant you may feel overwhelmed by the number of home pregnancy tests on the market. Knowing ...

Discover More
MORE HEALTH TIPS

Recognizing an Asthma Attack

Recognizing symptoms of an asthma attack can help protect you or your child from serious respiratory complications. Be sure ...

Discover More

Foods That Make Asthma Worse

There are a variety of foods that should be avoided if you or your child has been diagnosed with asthma. Watching what you ...

Discover More

Natural Asthma Treatments

For those who suffer from asthma and wish to supplement their traditional medicinal treatment there are a variety of options. ...

Discover More

Comments for this tip:

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 9 - 7?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Links and Sharing
  • Ask a Question
  • Make a Comment
  • Free Printable Forms
  • Free Calendars
  • Share