Asthma Awareness Month
Understanding Asthma and Its Triggers
While many American’s love this time of year, for more than 26 million of us who suffer from asthma this season can be challenging. At Prestige ER, we believe that understanding asthma is particularly vital during this time of year is our beautiful state of Texas.
We end the month of May, National Asthma Awareness Month to be well equipped to fend off any possible summer asthma attacks.
Alarming Facts of Asthma
- Some 26.5 million Americans are living with asthma
- More than 6 million of diagnosed cases are children under the age of 18
- Around 3,500 death a year list asthma as the underlying cause of death, sadly most of these could have been prevented
- More than 1.7 million Americans visit the Emergency Room every year for asthma-related symptoms
- According to the CDC, 1.5 million Texans have been diagnosed with asthma
- Close to 200 people die from asthma-related causes every year in Texas
What is Asthma?
The first step to understanding asthma is to know what it is and how it works. Asthma is a chronic disease where the inside walls of a patient’s airways become sore and swollen, this makes them extremely sensitive to certain allergens or triggers.
When airways encounter one or more of these triggers they get narrower and as a result the lungs get less oxygen, which in turn causes chest tightening, wheezing, coughing, and trouble breathing. Although this can happen at any time it is most common in the early morning or at night.
What is an Asthma Attack?
When the symptoms of asthma become more severe than usual, this is known as an asthma attack. The severity of the symptoms during an attack varies, but in extreme cases, the airways swell so much that vital organs are unable to get sufficient amounts of oxygen to operate properly and if not treated in time the person can die.
What Causes Asthma?
Scientists do not know what causes asthma to develop but there is some evidence that suggests that genetics play a part, this means that if a close relative has asthma you are more likely to also suffer from it.
Researchers believe that susceptibility to asthma develops very early in life, which would explain why 1 in 11 children have the condition. Some believe the susceptibility develops in the womb from the pregnant mother being exposed to cigarette smoke, allergens, and even certain foods, and children exposed to allergens or those who suffer from respiratory infections within their first three years of life are also more likely to cause asthma.
Understanding asthma symptoms is a bit challenging as they vary from one patient to another, the severity of the symptoms also changes from person to person and even between episodes, in some instances, your symptoms may be mild, and during another attack, they can be more severe.
Asthma signs include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Trouble sleeping due to coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath
- A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
- Coughing or wheezing attacks that become worse when the patient catches a cold or flu.
Asthma flare-ups are most commonly induced by inhaled substances found in our everyday environment, the most common are:
- Air Pollution: Industrial and motor vehicle emissions are some of the biggest culprits behind asthma attacks, cigarette smoke, and pollen are also contributing factors.
- Mold and other Fungal Spores: Mold and other fungi thrive in humid places, inhaling these can cause an asthma attack.
- Pet Dander: This does not mean that anyone suffering from asthma should not own a pet, however, it does mean pets should be bathed weekly, you should vacuum often, and you should avoid sleeping with your pet.
- Cockroaches: Researchers have discovered that cockroaches and their droppings can trigger an asthma attack.
- Dust Mites: These microscopic creatures are possibly the most common asthma trigger
There is another set of triggers that are not linked to the environment but are rather more physical in nature, these include:
- Respiratory Infections
- Fear or nervousness
When to Seek Immediate Emergency Attention
The number one mistake asthma patients make is thinking they can control a severe attack without medical attention.
The problem is that airways can quickly swell to a point where the lungs are unable to draw-in sufficient oxygen to supply vital organs, and the patient’s condition can rapidly deteriorate increasing the risk of death.
You should come into Prestige ER if you or someone you know displays any of the following symptoms:
- Fast breathing with chest retractions (skin sucks in between or around the chest plate and/or rib bones when inhaling)
- Cyanosis (very pale or blue coloring in the face, lips, fingernails)
- Rapid movement of nostrils
- Ribs or stomach moving in and out deeply and rapidly
- An expanded chest that does not deflate when you exhale
- Infants with asthma who fail to respond to or recognize parents
Remember Prestige ER is available to treat children and adults experiencing mild to life-threatening asthma symptoms 24/7.
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Prestige ER is honored to serve all the residents of Plano and surrounding cities like Frisco and Allen, we hope that you have a lovely May and have a happy and healthy June. By better understanding asthma, you will have a greater likelihood to prevent an asthma attack. Please keep in mind that Prestige ER is Open 24/7 every day of the year, if you need us, we are here for you.
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