Asthma which is caused due to inflammation of the airways, is very common, and the number of people suffering from it is on the rise everyday. A recent survey identified that about 35 percent of all 13, 14 year olds in the United Kingdom have symptoms compatible with asthma, while in the USA the figure is about 22.5 percent.
What are the Symptoms of Asthma?
Symptoms commonly associated with asthma include:
• A tight feeling in the chest
• Wheezy breathing
These symptoms, which are related to a narrowing of the airways, are not constant, however and they are also variable in nature.
The causes of Asthma
The onset of asthma commonly takes place in childhood, but it can start at any age. For most children with asthma (about 80 percent), and for more than half the adult sufferers, there is an allergic basis for their disease – this means that being in contact with a specific allergen makes their symptoms worse. This exposure may occur only periodically, such as when you visit the home of a cat-owning friend, or it can be continuous, as with the allergens resident in your home. Common allergens in the home are those relating to house-dust mites, cockroaches, and to pets.
Continuous exposure to allergens in the home produces inflammation within the airways and makes them hyper-responsive to certain stimuli in the environment. These stimuli are called “trigger factors”, since they temporarily trigger symptoms in those who already have asthma but do not actually induce the disease in the first place or maintain it, as allergens do. Common trigger factors include cold air exercise, strong smells (such as perfume), cigarette smoke, aerosol sprays (such as hair sprays or furniture polish), and irritant gases (such as car exhaust fumes). Reactions to these types of factors do not represent an allergy, since they are irritants and your body’s reaction does not involve the immune system. If you can manage to avoid allergens you will reduce the inflammation and by doing so lessen your response to any trigger factors you encounter.