Asthma is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of the lungs, which can restrict airways, causing shortness of
breath, wheezing and coughing.  Less severe cases of asthma can result in fatigue and difficulty concentrating.  Asthma can
be brought on by allergies, exercise, cold temperatures, infections or stress.  Asthma is not curable, but can be well managed
through medications and by avoiding harmful environmental factors that may trigger an attack.  It is very important to
minimize the inflammation of asthma, since chronic inflammation weakens the lings and can make them prone to chronic lung
disease.

How do I know if it is asthma?

In order to control asthma, you have to recognize it.  Asthma symptoms often match those of routine childhood illnesses, and
there is no test to diagnose asthma in children under the age of five.  Children with asthma do not always wheeze or have
obvious attacks.  

Recurrent nighttime or early morning coughing can be a sign of asthma, as well as rapid or noisy breathing, or frequent
bronchitis or pneumonia.  Sometimes the only clue is that a child cannot keep up with friends during physical exertion.  If
your child shows signs of asthma, remain watchful even if a doctor rules out the disease.  Seek a second opinion if symptoms
continue.

What to do if you suffer from asthma

About 50 percent of adults with asthma exhibit allergic responses.  Avoidance of triggers that lead to asthma attacks is as
much a priority as treatment for the disease.  Asthmatic and allergen triggers include:

•        tobacco smoke

•        air pollution

•        dust mites (microscopic animals that live in dust)

•        cockroaches and their droppings

•        viruses

•        mold

•        animal dander (small particles from fur, hair feathers or skin

•        sulfites (chemicals used in some soft drinks and processed foods

Prevention

To prevent asthma attacks and lower the triggers in your home and environment, important steps can be taken to make your
personal environment allergy-free.

Pets - Keep pets outside if possible or confine them to carpet-free areas outside of your bedroom.  Washing cats and dogs
once a week can reduce allergens.  There are dry shampoos available that remove allergens from skin and fur and are easy to
administer.

Air filters and vacuum cleaners - Air cleaners, filters for air conditioners, and vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters can help
remove particles and small allergens found indoors.  It is best for allergy and asthma sufferers to avoid carpets if possible.

Bedding and curtains - Using semi-permeable coverings to fully encase mattresses and pillows is an effective step in
reducing dust mite levels in your bedroom.  Curtains should be replaced with shades or blinds ans bedding washes using the
highest temperature setting.

Other recommendations - Dampness increases the risk of asthma.  Keep humidity levels in your house below 40 percent.  
Electric stoves should replace gas stoves, which release nitrogen dioxide.  Cockroaches should be eliminated by professional
exterminators.  

Outdoor prevention - Camping and hiking trips should not be scheduled during times of high pollen counts.  Asthma
sufferers should avoid strenuous activity when ozone levels are highest.  Also, asthma sufferers allergic to mold should avoid
barns, hay, raking leaves and mowing grass.  Automobile fumes and fungi in car air conditioners can also be a problem.

Avoid certain drugs - Aspirin and products containing aspirin can cause life-threatening asthma attacks in susceptible
individuals.  Use acetaminophen as an alternative to aspirin and aspirin-related products.

Senate’s Asthma Reporting Law

A new law requiring hospitals to reports the incidence of asthma among emergency room patients is designed to help health
officials better understand and track the disease, and to improve medical treatment.  Researchers hope to get a better idea of
when asthma attacks, with the goal of linking the disease to other environmental factors, such as weather and pollution levels.
Asthma
Asthma - Fact about asthma - what is asthma - Bright Tots information on early childhood development.  www.brighttots.com
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