According to the World Health Organization, asthma is a chronic disease of the air passages of the lungs which inflames and narrows them, causing repeated attacks of breathlessness, wheezing, and coughing.
When an asthma attack occurs, the lining of the bronchial tubes swell, which cause the airways to narrow and reduce the air flow in and out of the lungs. Symptoms may occur several times in a day or throughout the week. For some people, symptoms may worsen at night or during physical activity.
To control asthma, certain medication is used, such as an inhaler. Avoiding asthma triggers can also help reduce the severity of an attack, which vary from person to person.
The World Health Organization has estimated that 235 million people suffer from asthma. It is also a common disease among children. Asthma risk factors include a combination of genetic predisposition and exposure to certain irritants that trigger attacks such as:
- Indoor allergens (for example, house dust mites, pollution, and pet dander)
- Outdoor allergens such as pollen and molds
- Tobacco smoke
- Air pollution; and
- Chemical irritants in the workplace
Other triggers include:
- Cold air
- Physical exercise
- Extreme emotional arousal; and
- Certain medications such as aspirin, beta-blockers, and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs
There are many ways in which the burden of asthma can be reduced. Asthma can be controlled through medication and avoiding asthma triggers. It is imperative that people with asthma adhere to proper treatment as failure to do so can lead to death. When asthma is properly managed, it enables people to live a happier lifestyle.
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