Asthma Term Paper

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Asthma

Asthma is a chronic lung condition that affects people of all ages. It can be

severe and is sometimes fatal. It is primarily caused by inflammation of the

airways which causes them to be hyper-irritated and respond with mucus

production and decreased air flow. This irritability may be associated with cough,

wheezing, shortness of breath and mucus production. This condition is usually

reversible with the proper medical management.

The tendency to have extra-irritable ( twitchy ) airways may have an

inherited component, or may be acquired. This tendency is, then , acted on by any

number of stimuli (singly or in combination) including: air temperature,

respiratory viruses, pollution, odors, allergens, stress, chemicals, dust and cigarette

smoke ( active or passive ). The two most important triggers for people are

respectively viruses and cigarette smoke.

Spasm of the bronchial's smooth muscle, may play a role in immediate

symptoms of asthma, but is much less a factor than previously believed. Airway

inflammation is, by far, the more important factor. Some asthma can triggered only

by vigorous exercise which causes airway irritability in susceptible individuals due

to drying of the airways because of rapid breathing in and out.

Many different cells in the lining of the airways produce chemicals which

are responsible for asthma symptoms. Most asthma symptoms can be well

controlled with the proper use of various medicines, regular medical care, and

self-monitoring of the air flow and symptoms. Even a well-controlled asthmatic

who is usually symptom-free on a given therapeutic scheme may except one or

more acute symptom flares a year. Most frequently, these flares result from viral

respiratory tract infection and can be treated more easily if caught early in the

course of the flare.

Inhaled mediums are the mainstay of asthma treatment. These can be either

beta agonists such as Ventolin, Proventil ( which relax tight airway muscles ) or

they can be anti-inflammatory inhalers such as Intal, Vanceril, Azmacort.

Combined therapy may be recommended for some people, depending upon the

nature and severity of the symptoms.

Oral bronchodilators such as theophylline or oral beta agonists may occasionally

be of assistance in addition to inhaled medicines. Currently, however, they play a

far less important role in asthma treatment than they previously did. Oral

Prednisone is the ultimate asthma medicine due to its potent anti-inflammatory

actions, and can be safely taken in moderately strong doses of short periods of

time. Long-term oral Prednisone treatment may be indicated for severe asthma

which fails to respond to all other measures. Side effects of long-term Predinsone

treatment include gastritis, ulcers, weakening of bones, thin skin, easy bruising and

suppression of the normal adrenal gland, cortisone response to stress. These side

effects can be minimized ( but not eliminated ) by the following special dosage

schedules.

Another unique way of treatment is by watching the environment that you

are in! Dust is one of the most common irritant that can give you that " twitchy "

feeling. Many people diagnosed with asthma don't feel like exercising, and many

others are to afraid to. Dr. Sarah Robins said, " You should look up to athletes like

Jackie Joyner-Kersee she holds many World Records, and asthma didn't stop her!

So all asthmatic are encourage to be the best at what they do!"

People who are asthmatic should take many precautions. Untreated asthma

can be fatal. The main reason for asthma-related deaths are ( 1 ) failure to patient

ot recognize the severity of the attack and waiting to use inhalers despite escalating

symptoms; ( 2 ) physician failure to recognize increase inflammatory symptoms

early in the attack.

Symptoms that may indicate worsening condition in a known asthmatic may

include: increase need for a beta agonist inhaler for relief, symptoms interfering

with normal activities of daily living, symptoms a night. Any increase in shortness

of breath, cough, wheeze, or sputum production should be evaluated.

Asthma that is well controlled may be asymptomatic. The optimal path for

good control lies in continuity of medical care. For this reason it is very important

to keep regular clinic visits ( frequency depending on symptoms ) even when you

feel well. This helps to prevent problems from developing, or to catch problems

earlier while treatment is easier.

If breathing symptoms ( including cough, shortness of breath, wheeze,

sputum production ) interfere with activities of daily living or sleep, or if persist

for a long time, medical evaluation is indicated.

Please take care of yourself and each other, please see a doctor just for a

check-up!

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