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Asthma

Asthma is a kind of chronic lung disease in which a patient has inflamed and narrow airways leading to difficulty in breathing (Britannica School, n.d.). According to the data provided by WHO in 2019, there are about 262 million people affected by asthma and 455,000 people died because of asthma in the world, especially in low- and lower-middle-income countries. In Canada, asthma is the third-most common chronic disease, which affects more than 3.8 million Canadians, including 850,000 children under the age of 14. The exact causes of asthma are still unknown, but heredity and environment are considered the probable factors that cause asthma (Asthma Canada, n.d.). This report will look at the possible causes, characteristics, and management of asthma.

Causes

Although scientists are still working on finding the specific causes of asthma, Asthma Canada hypothesizes that heredity and environment are the two main possible causes.


The first hypothesis is that asthma is linked to the presence of asthma in other family members, especially close relatives such as parents and siblings. According to the World Health Organization on May 4, 2023, "Asthma is more likely if other family members also have asthma – particularly a close relative, such as a parent or sibling". If the parents have asthma, it will increase the risks of their child developing asthma. This may be due to genetic factors, making asthma more common within a family. As scientists have discovered that "more than 30 genes have been linked to asthma so far" (Asthma Canada, n.d.), it's complicated to know which gene plays the specific role of causing asthma. Even though it's still difficult for scientists to find out the certain genes that can cause asthma, this fact helps them understand the genetic mechanism and find out the cause of asthma more easily.


Also, urbanization and occupational exposure may elevate the likelihood of asthma. As stated by the World Health Organization and Asthma Canada, urbanization can lead to asthma, due to various factors like air pollution, house dust mites, fumes, and dust. In urban areas, polluted air and other harmful substances may influence the breathing of humans. In addition, "occupational asthma is a common cause of adult-onset asthma" (Asthma Canada, n.d.). Some careers that require people to be exposed to toxic chemicals, smoke, and poisonous gases can be highly dangerous to humans' airways, having a high potential of triggering asthma. It's crucial for the government and society to know about these facts and take action to prevent the environment that may cause asthma. The interactions between genes and the environment are the crucial causes of asthma. It still requires scientists to further study to find out the real causes of asthma.

Characteristics

Different people with asthma may have different symptoms. It can mainly be divided into two categories, common symptoms and asthma attacks.

Common symptoms are the symptoms occurring in the daily lives of people with asthma, which are not life-threatening. They include "wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, and breathlessness" (Britannica School, n.d.). Additionally, one of the most common symptoms of asthma is coughing (Royston, 2010, p.8). It's prevalent for people with asthma to cough. What's worse, as people with asthma breathe, they may have wheezing sounds and feelings of tightness in their chests. However, these common symptoms will not badly affect patients' daily lives.


But an asthma attack is a life-threatening symptom of asthma for people. It is said by Marcovitiz in his book that once asthma attacks occur, the patients' coughing and wheezing will become severe. They will even feel pain or pressure from their chest, leading to difficulty in breathing and pale faces. While suffering from asthma attacks, the lack of fresh air to breathe in causes patients to panic and even threatens their lives. Although not all the symptoms of asthma are life-threatening, people with asthma should pay more attention to prevent highly dangerous asthma attacks.


Management

Asthma is a kind of disease that "cannot be cured but there are several treatments available" (World Health Organization, 2023, May 4). The primary requirement to control asthma involves using the controller and reliever inhalers consistently. Patients need to use controllers every day to administer persistent inflammation, even though their symptoms have been controlled. Inflammation of airways will reappear at any moment over time. It's crucial for patients to use the controller daily. Relievers should be carried with patients everywhere to relieve tightness in the airway just in case. However, reliever only provides a temporary and short-term solution (Asthma Canada, n.d.). Once an asthma attack or tightness in the airways occurs, patients must use the relievers to ease the symptoms. Most importantly, they should go to the hospital for further treatment as soon as possible.


The use of peak flow meters serves as a useful method to monitor the progress of asthma treatment and assess the medication's effectiveness. In asthma management, peak flow meters are used to track the progress of treatment. Patients are instructed to take daily peak flow measurements at various times over several days (Royston, 2010, p.25). Doctors can adjust the treatments and medications according to the data measured by peak flow meters. This approach provides real-time feedback on the status of the condition, enabling timely adjustments to the treatment plan if needed.

The advantages of doing exercise outweigh the disadvantages for people with asthma. It's important for patients to know how to exercise in a proper way. There are also many Olympic champions who have asthma, such as two-time Olympic figure skating champion "Yuzuru Hanyu'' (Britannica School, n.d.). Asthma does not limit people's ability to do sports and even make achievements in it. Also, as a study at Syracuse University shows, "20 asthma patients enrolled in a yoga class found that their symptoms eased by an average of 43 percent after practicing yoga over a period of 10 weeks' (Marcovitiz, 2009, p.65). The study shows an innovative treatment by doing yoga.


For people with asthma, inhalers must be carried at all times when exercising. They'd better warm up before they do exercise and stop using inhalers once they begin to get symptoms. After finishing the exercise, some cooling down exercises can help them to restore their breathing. Furthermore, they must use the relievers before they do the exercises they already know are more likely to trigger asthma (Rosyton, 2010, p.36). Still, people with asthma should learn about how to do exercises safely. It's universally acknowledged that asthma is incurable. To live with asthma, people should take medications daily, use peak flow meters, and do exercise properly.

In conclusion, asthma is a chronic disease that has unknown causes, diverse symptoms, and no cure. Scientists are still further studying and wishing that people with asthma would be cured one day. 



References

Asthma Canada. (n.d.). Medicines & treatment. https://asthma.ca/get-help/treatment/

Asthma Canada. (n.d.). Peak Flow Meters. 

Asthma Canada. (n.d.). Underdstanding asthma. 

Encyclopædia Britannica. (n.d.). Asthma. Britannica School. Retrieved March 25, 2024, from 

Encyclopædia Britannica. (n.d.). Hanyu Yuzuru. Britannica School. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from https://school.eb.com/levels/high/article/Hanyu-Yuzuru/626736

Marcovitz, H. (2009). Asthma. ReferencePoint Press.

Royston, A. (2009). Explain asthma. Smart Apple Media.



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