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What is Asthma ?

Asthma is the disease of the twenty-first century. If Typhoid and Cholera have had their day, then they only made room for a new epidemic. The fact that asthma doesn't make the news headl ines all the time is simply because it is not as dramatic as the two former diseases. It still kills, but because hundreds at a time aren't falling down dead, the media doesn't really want to know about it. However asthma has the potential to be even worse than both Typhoid and Cholera put together.

We have all heard of asthma, but do we really understand what it is and how it affects our bodies? Well settle down, because I'm going to tell you all you need to know. Put basically, asthma makes the tube from our lungs to the outside world narrower. As this tube gets narrower, we find it harder and harder to breathe. There are three factors that effect the breathing tube. The muscles in our throat contract, the lining of the tubes becomes swollen, or mucus builds up and we feel like we are being strangled from the inside out. When this happens it is called an asthma attack, and that's when the real problems start. Panic attacks can often begin and the sufferer feels as if they are drowning. They may also get pains in their chest. Imagine not knowing you had asthma and thought it was a heart attack.

Now we know what it is, but we also need to know why this happens. Unfortunately no one knows for sure why we get asthma. It is generally assumed that it is genetic and not infectious. Studies are now starting to show that social changes like the environment, smoking and obesity are exacerbating factors. Asthma is a very individual disease, meaning that it effects different people in different ways. Some are especially susceptible to pollen, others to cigarette smoke or even wine and dogs. These are called triggers and there are many different kinds. Apart from the aforementioned pollens, smoke, wines and dogs, other triggers include cold air, dust mites, exercise and even laughing and talking. The trick to controlling asthma is finding out what you are particularly susceptible to. This could take a while but the benefits are obvious.

But there is good news for the asthma sufferer. With good care and armed with plenty of knowledge to keep this disease under control, there is no reason what so ever that the person effected can't have a normal, healthy life.

One theory that many have applied successfully is that asthma is a defence mechanism our bodies use to keep the right balance of different gases in our lungs. When they retrained their breathing to get this balance right all the time, they found their asthma went away!

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