Asthma Complexities

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Asthma complexities facts

  • Unusual symptoms of asthma include cough, rapid breathing, fatigue, sighing, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can mimic other illnesses.
  • Asthma can be mimicked by other conditions, such as heart failure, bronchitis, emphysema, bronchiectasis, bronchial obstruction, vocal-cord dysfunction, and hypersensitivity reactions.
  • Exercise is a common trigger for asthma and may cause symptoms in 80% to 90% of asthmatics.
  • Exercise-induced asthma is managed by choosing an appropriate sport, controlling the asthma prior to events, warming up, avoiding cold, stopping exercise during an asthma attack, cooling down after exercise, and preventing episodes with the use of inhalers and bronchodilators.
  • Some conditions can cause asthma to worsen, including GERD, allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, and air pollution.

What do all of these individuals have in common? An active 13-year-old becomes breathless shortly after her soccer games and coughs on a cold winter's night. A young woman has a dry, hacking cough that has persisted for a year after her last "cold." A teenager sleeps poorly and is awakened early every morning with chest tightness and difficulty breathing. What these individuals have in common is the possibility that they all may have asthma.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/24/2014

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Asthma Complexities - Exercise-Induced Question: Do you or a relative have exercise-induced asthma? Please share your experience.
Asthma Complexities - GERD Question: Do you have asthma and GERD? If so, please share your experience.
Asthma Complexities - Food Allergies Question: Do you have food allergies in addition to asthma? In what ways do you manage both?
Asthma Complexities - Unusual Symptoms Question: Did you have unusual symptoms that ended up being diagnosed as asthma? Please share your experience.
Is our environment to blame for increasing asthma rates?

Asthma Rates Increasing...Are Environmental Exposures?

Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Scientists and physicians have noticed that the rates of asthma have been increasing in recent decades. This has been especially true in developed countries such as the United States. In fact, the American Lung Association has reported that asthma prevalence has risen from 34 cases/1000 people in the general population in 1982 to 56 cases/1000 in 1994.

Research into the causes of this striking increase in asthma has led to a number of possible explanations being proposed, but there has yet to be unanimous agreement on the reasons.

A study reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (1999; 159:125-29) evaluated a group of patients at two points in time, 30 years apart. The study performed by doctors in Scotland detected a significant increase in symptoms of allergic asthma and levels of antibodies to environmental allergic factors, such as dust mites, pets, and air pollutants over the three decades. Importantly, the researchers noted that there was an increase in the signs and symptoms of allergy, even in people without a family history of allergy!


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