Every year in spring millions of people around the world suffer from asthma. It is a time you can see flowers in nature and grass is cut.

Asthma is an illness that narrows the breathing passages. As a result, not enough air can enter and leave your lungs. According to the World Health Organisation over 230 million people around the world are suffering from asthma. Among children it is the most chronic disease. While asthma occurs in almost all countries, asthma-related deaths happen mainly in the poorer countries of the Third World.

In America over 25 million people and 7 million children develop asthma every year. The disease is more common among African Americans. The death rate among this group is five times as high as among whites. The WHO warns that asthma rates are increasing by 50 % every ten years. Asthma also causes a loss of business and does damage to the economy because many people stay at home when they are ill.

Asthma deaths per million people (2012)
Image: Chris55, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Data from : World Health Organisation

Asthma occurs when tissue in your throat begins to expand or swell. Muscles in these passages become tighter and cells begin to produce some sticky substance, which makes airways even smaller. This makes it difficult for air to flow into your lungs. When this happens we call it an asthma attack. Victims fight to get enough air into their lungs, sometimes they have to cough and they breathe heavily. Sometimes asthma victims have a pain in the chest. Such an illness can deeply influence a person’s health and may even lead to death.

Doctors are not sure what causes asthma. Some argue that environmental influences are the main factors; however, some doctors claim that genes are also responsible for asthma. Almost half of the parents who suffer from asthma will also pass it on to their children. 70% of all people who have asthma also suffer from allergies, when the body reacts in an unusual way towards mostly harmless substances.

Many things can trigger asthma attacks, sometimes pollen that fly through the air, at other times dust, animal hair, mold or dampness. Air pollution from motor vehicles, factories, smoking, household sprays and other chemicals can lead to asthma. Exercising in cold weather can also trigger an asthma attack.

Many doctors prescribe asthma patients albuterol. Asthma victims often use a machine that turns this medicine into a fog-like spray that is connected to a mask that fits over your nose and mouth. It helps reduce the swelling of the airways.There are some things that individuals can do to reduce the suffering caused by asthma. They should know when and how to take their medicine and how to treat asthma attacks when they occur.

There are also new methods that have been tried out. Researchers have tested a new vaccine that protects people from dust. It produces dust particles of its own and makes the human body immune to dust.

Left : Normal airways – Right : Airways during asthma attack
Image: BruceBlaus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Inhaler used during an asthma attack
Image: James Heilman, MD, CC BY-SA 3.0,
via Wikimedia Commons


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