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Asthma - Research Paper Example

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Biology Research Paper 26 November 2012 Asthma Asthma is a long term lung ailment that inflames and constricts the airways. Asthma results into recurrent periods of wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. The coughing frequently occurs during the night or real early in the morning…
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Download file to see previous pages An individual finds it extremely strenuous to take air in and out of the lungs during an asthma attack. This is because the inner layer of the tubes conveying air between the throat and lungs become swollen to some extent closing the airway (5). There is also increased secretion of mucus, which further serves to narrow the airway. The inflamed airway is sensitive to a number of substances, which causes asthmatic patients to be extremely allergic to various substances. The precise cause of asthma is unknown; however, researchers believe that there is an interaction of some genetic and environmental factors, which bring about asthma. This usually happens during the early stages of development. Statistics show that about 23 million Americans have asthma, 7 million of them being under the age of eighteen years (Murphy 7). The genetic and environmental factors that cause asthma include atopy, childhood respiratory infections, contact with airborne allergens, having asthmatic parents, and contact with some viral illnesses during infancy or early childhood as the immune system is developing (What Is Asthma? - NHLBI, NIH). Atopy is the hereditary propensity of developing asthma. The Hygiene Hypothesis tries to explain the causes of asthma by suggesting that reduced exposure to various childhood ailments due to the highly hygienic Western lifestyle affects children’s immune systems, making them more prone to atopy and asthma. There is no known cure for asthma and the ailment can erupt at any time despite the patient feeling fine. It is, therefore, imperative to treat symptoms as soon as one notices them to prevent the progression of a mild attack into a strong attack. Consequently, one needs to know asthma symptoms to recognize them. The most common signs of asthma are wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness (What Is Asthma? - NHLBI, NIH). However, possessing these signs does not always mean that a person has asthma. Hence, a person displaying these symptoms needs to see a doctor for proper diagnosis using the lung function test and a physical examination. Many things set off or aggravate asthma conditions including allergens derived from dust, mold, pollen, animal fur, and cockroaches. Cigarette smoke, dust, and sprays also contain irritants that can spark asthma attacks. Viral infections of the upper respiratory tract, for example, colds, some medications (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and nonselective beta-blockers), and sulfites present in foodstuffs and beverages also trigger asthma attacks (What Is Asthma? - NHLBI, NIH). Vigorous physical activity such as exercises may also worsen the symptoms of asthma. Other health conditions e.g. “a runny nose, sinus infections, reflux disease, psychological stress, and sleep apnea” make the management of asthma more challenging and ought to be treated, as well (What Is Asthma? - NHLBI, NIH). The identification of asthma relies on medical and family histories, test results, and a physical examination. The establishment of medical and family histories involves determining the frequency and severity of asthma symptoms. It is also imperative to determine the exact periods of the attacks, for example, certain times of the day or seasons of the year. Physical examination involves the doctor looking out for asthma signs such as “wheezing, a runny nose, swollen nasal passages and allergic skin conditions such as eczema” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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