Tag Archive | "asthma"

Asthma Basics

Asthma is one of the most common illnesses in children. Asthma affects 1 in every 15 children, and approximately 5% of adults are also suffering from this ailment. Over the past couple of decades, statistics reveal that there was a 30% increase in the number of people getting hospitalized due to asthma and even if there were developments with regards to treating the sickness, the death toll among children has doubled. Statistics also reveal that almost 5,000 people die from asthma in the United States.

 What is Asthma?

Asthma is described as difficulty in breathing. This occurs when the bronchial tubes get inflamed and the airways constrict. Most of the times, the constriction of the airways is treatable, but in some cases, they are only partially reversible.

There are two types of triggers which can cause asthma. One is the specific triggers or the allergens and another is the nonspecific triggers or the irritants. These two triggers can cause BHR or bronchial hyper-reactivity. Studies have shown that all people have a certain level to which their BHR is triggered. Unfortunately, for people who are allergic and asthmatics, they are more sensitive.

Is Inflammation Important or Harmful to the Body?

When a child’s body is infected or is injured, they will have inflammations. This is characterized by the presence of blood on the affected area, which means that the healing process is starting to take effect. When the inflammation has subsided, it usually means that the affected area has already healed. However, when it comes to asthma, inflammation means that the disease is likely to occur again, especially when talking about short term effects. In the long term, inflammation paired with asthma may cause airway remodeling, or the bronchial walls permanently thickening. To conclude, the goal of a medical practitioner in treating asthma is to minimize the inflammation of the airways in the short term, and in the long term, to prevent the thickening of the bronchial walls.

What are the Common Asthma Triggers?

There can be a lot of agents that might trigger an asthma attack to an individual. The complicated part of this disease is that not all triggers have the same effect on all people diagnosed with asthma. In effect, the severity of the asthma attack in one person depends on the number of outside agents that trigger the disease. Generally, asthma triggers are classified between specific triggers or the allergens and the nonspecific triggers or the irritants.

Some of the common triggers which are classified as allergens include additives like sulfites, certain foods (soy, milk, peanuts, fish and egg), pollens, dust mites, pets, insects and molds. On the other hand, irritants include PMS in women, emotional reactions (yelling, crying, and laughing), outside factors such as dusts and certain chemicals, too much exercise (for asthmatic people), indoor triggers such as deodorants, household chemicals, paints and detergents, gasoline fumes, smog, weather changes, cigarette smoke, certain drugs (beta blockers, NSAIDs, and aspirin), and respiratory infections like sinusitis and bronchitis.

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Handling an Asthma Flare-up

We might hear people talk about a very common disease that affects both children and adults called asthma. What is asthma? Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the airways anatomically called Bronchial Tubes. During asthma attacks, because of airway obstruction, the person will have continuous coughing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing. Asthma attacks or sometimes called flare-ups are triggered by certain allergens such as dust, animal hair or fur and plant pollen, in some cases, sudden changes in the weather also starts an attack. Asthma if left untreated and unmanaged can become very fatal. In the United States of America alone, this disease causes 4,000 deaths every year. Worldwide, asthma contributes to 250,000 fatalities every year.

During an asthma flare-up the airways or passages become swollen, around this time children are observed to have difficulty in breathing, they may look like they’re gasping for air. Wheezes or whistling sounds are heard during breathing, a tight and painful chest may also be present together with a cough. Some kids might be sweating profusely and feel as if their heart is beating faster than usual.  A flare-up can last from a few minutes to several hours; this should be treated right away with anti-asthma medications and inhalers that allow the bronchial tubes to dilate. In the event, that medication is not available; the child must be immediately brought to the hospital or emergency room for the appropriate care and intervention. Asthma is a life-threatening disease and should be managed the soonest possible time.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Asthma is best prevented rather that treated once an attack or flare-up happens. As mentioned, asthma is triggered by certain allergens found in the environment. Parents must determine what these allergens are, and have their homes free from such materials. For example if cat fur of dog hair, triggers the child’s asthma, parents should not keep dogs and cats as pets, but instead they can try keeping a fish or turtle inside a tank. If dust causes an asthma attack, the child’s home must be kept as dust-free as possible. Changes in the weather also contribute in some asthma attacks and flare-ups, since weather can’t be controlled; parents can encourage their children to stay indoors during instances of intermittent weather change. Maintenance medications, commonly in the form of inhalers are available for asthmatic children; parents must make sure that their kids are puffing their inhalers as prescribed. Following the doctor’s advice and treatment plan will limit the incidence of asthma attacks and in some cases it can even completely eradicate the disease.

Asthma is a disease that’s very controllable; parents need to teach their kids that doing health promotion activities such as eating a proper diet, getting enough rest and sleep, and maintaining a regular exercise routine and taking the right medication is very beneficial in limiting episodes of asthma attacks. Staying away from things that trigger an attack also helps a lot.


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Tylenol Use in Teens Increases Risk of Asthma

Does the use of Tylenol in teens increase their chances of getting asthma? According to a recent study conducted by Professor Richard Beasley an epidemiologist and director of the medical research institute of Wellington, in New Zealand, teens using Tylenol are at a higher risk of developing asthma as well as eczema and other allergic nasal conditions compared to those teens who are not taking them. Based on the results of his study, approximately 43% of teens who use Tylenol at least once per year develop asthma, and this percentage increases by 2.5 if the medication is taken at least once in every month.

 What is Tylenol anyway? And why do teens use them? Tylenol is a drug, generically known as acetaminophen, invented during the 1950’s by Dr. James Roth, an American gastroenterologist.  Tylenol was primarily created as a safe substitute for Aspirin since this drug has fewer side effects compared to the latter that causes bleeding tendencies and increases the risk of acquiring Reye’s syndrome a fatal condition that affects the body’s major organs most especially the brain and liver. This drug is used to relieve pain, minimize fever, and relieve discomforts and symptoms of colds, cough and allergies.  Tylenol is an over the counter drug, it is widely available anywhere, and a doctor’s prescription isn’t required to purchase this. Popular brand names include Motrin, Zyrtec, Bendryl and Tylenol plus, manufacturers create several preparations for this drug like tablets, soft gel capsules, and liquid suspensions depending on the its indication. In some cases Tylenol is combined with codeine and other narcotics to make it a more potent analgesic and pain reliever.

 Tylenol has potential risks and side effects. Excessive intake causes paracetamol toxicity which damages the liver leading to acute or chronic liver failure. An overdose of this drug can also cause poisoning, which is very fatal.  In the United States; Tylenol is responsible for 39% of all drug-related acute liver failure cases. Almost half of all the other drugs combined. The danger of excessive intake of this drug not only affects adults but also pregnant women, children and teens. As mentioned the intake of this drug place children and teens at a higher risk of developing asthma. Although not yet proven, significant findings show that since the invention of this drug more than 50 years ago, the incidence of asthma has been slowly increasing. Should it be a coincidence or not, this information needs to be closely looked at and researched further. 

 Like in any other drug, Tylenol should be taken with precaution most especially in children and teens. When taking Tylenol, be a responsible drug user, read the drug literature, look for more information and other resources; and if the situation calls for it, seek your doctor’s advice.  It can not be stressed enough how important it is for people to be extra careful when taking this drug, it’s strongly advised for patients to take the drug as directed. It is always better to be safe now rather than to be sorry in the future, when nothing can be done.

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