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Asthma

In the absence of an acute exacerbation or exacerbation triggered by other conditions, asthma is a chronic disease.

An acute exacerbation of asthma, as well as the acute or chronic exacerbations of other respiratory diseases, often leads to a reduction or even absence of pulmonary function, and often the lungs become starved of oxygen and other nutrients needed to keep them filled with air and prevent damage.

Hematocrit's, an index of white blood cell activity, is often the first test result to indicate the severity.

Cancers such as lung cancer can play a role in exacerbating asthma.

Odds are the odds of worsening asthma symptoms will be increased if you:

Get a blood test with a different test than the one you get when you have asthma.

Be on immunosuppressants (medications like steroids that suppress the immune system's response to the body's own cells).

If you are on immunosuppressants, take aspirin, ibuprofen, Naprosyn or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as acetaminophen, naproxen, others. Be sure to also tell your doctor when taking any of these medications that reduce immunity from the body's own cells.

Do not smoke. The smoke that people inhale contains cancer causing tobacco. Smoking increases your risk for asthma.

If you have had the asthma attack and you do not have the type of asthma that is aggravated by one of the above factors, find someone that you can trust with your asthma care and treatment.

Rates of acute respiratory illness due to asthma are highest among children who live in crowded housing, are overweight, or have a family history of asthma. Many kids with asthma get a second disease, bronchitis, which is a chronic lung inflammation that affects the airways. Risks of having one disease can be high, especially if your child has asthma. For example, those who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of developing asthma than those who never smoke. And those who do smoke are at more risk of developing pulmonary artery disease.

Diagnosis of asthma is critical to preventing serious respiratory illnesses because it allows parents to keep their children away from potentially deadly conditions. In fact, it can save lives. In 1999, an estimated 18,000 children died each year from asthma compared with 8,500 deaths from heart disease, and more than 40,000 died from cancer. The number of children with asthma was estimated to be twice as prevalent as the number of children diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Some symptoms of asthma may be more severe than others. Acute episodes of wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness generally start within the first few months of life, and are usually mild. Common symptoms include:

A wheezing sound, particularly from the lower back

Coughing, especially right before sleep

Dry-sounding breath

Chest tightness

Shortness of breath

A sudden attack of coughing or difficulty breathing (stagnation)

Headache

These symptoms can come and go, and the symptoms may change with age. The most common type of symptoms is shortness of breath, which is usually preceded by wheezing. If the episode continues past 6 months, asthma may be suspected if the lungs have not responded to standard asthma management.

Early diagnosis of asthma is crucial for preventing the development of long-term health problems, such as bronchitis and other conditions like asthma and emphysema. Early diagnosis allows parents and care providers to keep their children away from illnesses that can cause serious consequences.

For more information about what your child needs to do to reduce your child's risk of asthma, consult the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (Adolescent Cardiovascular Prevention Program). If your child is not sure how to get the most help from the program, here's some guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to manage your child's symptoms, including what you may be able to do by yourself.

How to get your child to get vaccinated

Parents and pediatricians have a variety of options to help prevent possible episodes of asthma in their children. At the least, vaccines that protect against common childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and varicella (chickenpox) are generally recommended.

Bacteria commonly found in the airways, including E. coli, are linked to asthma disease. Researchers are developing drug-based treatment systems that can fight infections. EB is the rarest cause of asthma that affects people of all ages, however. A person suffering from EB may be at high risk of developing asthma during pregnancy. If you or someone you know suffers from EB, seek immediate medical attention. EB infection in utero can also cause a severe birth defect, and it has been linked to a significantly elevated risk of death in the next two to five years for babies. To prevent this, CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid certain foods and beverages that have been associated with EB or have been shown to raise the risk of infection.

Examining your environment

Asthma can be a health concern during the growing months of the pregnancy if your child has some signs and symptoms of asthma. If you aren't aware of your children's asthma symptoms and you are not aware of this risk for your child, talk to your child's pediatrician.

Examining the air and air surrounding your home

Examining the air and air surrounding your home is one of many ways you can reduce the risk of asthma in your child. To reduce exposure to the air, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) recommends reducing the amount of carbon monoxide gas produced by heating and air conditioning systems. These systems generate carbon monoxide that is released into the environment. To reduce the exposure, these systems should be installed and maintained in accordance with applicable building codes.

Elevating the air in or around your home

Elevating the air in or around your home may be one important way of eliminating asthma symptoms. Elevating an area outside the home with a higher than normal temperature or humidity can increase asthma symptoms for the child. You can also elevate the air in or around your home via a fan or through a portable ventilator. Most fan-powered ventilators are made of high-efficiency heat-treated aluminum, whereas fans usually work in the coldest locations. The ventilation system should be large enough for each person to be able to breathe through it. To provide ventilation for the child, you can use air-conditioning units or portable fans. To keep the air cool in the summer, you can use a home air conditioner. A home air conditioner will typically allow the air to remain cool for 15 minutes on a typical winter night.

Keeping the air dry and clean

Keeping the air dry and clean may be another way of reducing asthma symptoms. Drier air means that there is less gas that is produced by the respiratory system, which can reduce asthma symptoms. If your child has symptoms, consider getting into a habit of cleaning the air surrounding your home. When dry, the air will not be as concentrated and irritate the airway.