Asthma: Asthma and Nocturnal Asthma Essay

Submitted By ljsdamus25
Words: 1802
Pages: 8

Today asthma is one of the most common diseases affecting people all over the world and within all age groups. There are over 300 million people who suffer from some type of asthma. In the U.S. there are approximately 20 million people who suffer from asthma. Asthma is more common among children with 1 in 20 children experiencing asthmatic symptoms. The word “asthma” is derived from the Greek word for “panting” (Izenberg 91). It describes what happens physiologically in the bronchi of the lungs during an asthmatic attack. During an attack the person suffers from inflammation of the bronchi lining, contraction of the muscles surrounding the airways (bronchoconstriction), and the increased production of mucus within the bronchi. The average asthma attack can last up to three minutes, but some symptoms persist longer. There is a wide range of symptoms that a person experiences during an asthma attack. Generally, there is difficulty breathing, wheezing during exhalation, coughing, and possibly mild anxiety. Bronchoconstriction of the airways causes the wheezing and coughing. Other symptoms can include tightness in the chest, difficulty speaking, exhaustion, and in some cases, hypoxia can develop. Asthma can also be associated with eczema and nasal polyps. Depending on the intensity and frequency of the symptoms, asthma is categorized based upon four levels of severity. The lowest severity type is mild intermittent asthma in which symptoms occur less than twice a week with attacks rarely happening. The second level is mild persistent asthma which means that the symptoms occur more than twice a week but not daily. Moderate persistent asthma involves daily symptoms with nighttime problems occurring more than once a week. This is the level in which the asthma affects the person’s daily life and requires the person to use medication every day to control the symptoms. The final level is severe persistent asthma which is characterized by frequent daily and nightly symptoms, persistent attacks, and a limited daily life. There are several different categories of asthma which are defined by what triggers the attack. These triggers can also be described as activators. Activators are not the cause of an attack; instead, they “ignite a chain reaction of events that lead to an attack” (Sander). Some people suffer from asthma triggered by allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, medications (aspirin), mold, and pollen. There is a probable genetic component with this type of asthma in families of asthma sufferers (www.asthma.com). Allergic asthma attacks can also be seasonal, especially during the spring and fall, and be activated by wind, rain, or even cold air. Non-allergic asthma sufferers react to air-borne substances such as smoke, perfumes, cleaning sprays, paint fumes, and room deodorizers. Emotions, such as laughing or crying, can also help trigger attacks in children. Other asthmatics experienced symptoms at night (nocturnal asthma). These people may shown signs of an attack sometime between 2am and 4am. This may be due to the fact that the body’s natural levels of adrenaline and corticosteroids are lowest during this time. Adrenaline and corticosteroids help in decreasing inflammation which in turn leads to a decreased likelihood of an attack. Another type of asthma involves the workplace. Occupational asthma occurs when a person is exposed to chemicals, fumes, gases, dust, or animal proteins. Symptoms can arise after a short exposure time, especially if the person already suffers from asthma, or over an extended time period. Some people have been known to experience attacks long after they are no longer exposed to the irritant. Finally, the last type of asthma is exercise-related asthma. Aerobic exercises (walking, running, using a treadmill) can lead to an attack with symptoms of chest tightness, coughing and wheezing, and an increased heartbeat five to ten minutes after the exercise. Asthma was first recognized as a disease…