Introduction To Asthma
The experience of asthma varies greatly among people who have asthma, mainly because of its variable severity. For some people it is a minor annoyance, a tickle of a cough felt high in the throat after exercise. For others it is the cause of restless nights with frequent awakenings due to cough and labored breathing.
For still others asthma manifests as severe attacks, characterized by suffocating sensation and the sense that the next breath may be the last. Some people with asthma are Olympic athletes, able to compete at the highest levels of physical strength and endurance. Others find themselves frequently in and out of the local emergency room, unable to plan routine daily activities because of unpredictable episodes of difficult breathing.
The loved ones of people with asthma often share much of emotional burden – if not the direct experience – of asthma. It can be exceedingly difficult to watch someone struggle with his or her breathing and feel unable to help. No one is likely to feel this distress more deeply than the parent of a child with asthma, especially a small child still too young to verbalize what he or she is going through. How can you keep your child safe, you wonder, through this respiratory tract infection, through the day at school, the soccer game, or the summer away at camp? You try to find the right balance between safety and restrictive limitations.
Many children and parents express complaints about the unpredictable nature of asthma. They say that never knowing when hey will have an “episode” and if that episode will be severe makes having asthma so stressful. This is reflected in asthma surveys that show many families suffer disrupted plans and activities because of the disease.
For most people, difficulty breathing is the most overwhelming but not the only symptom of asthma. Shortness of breath is often accompanied by a sensation of tightness in the chest that can make you feel as if you had a wide rubber band bound tightly around your torso. Wheezes or wheezing – musical whistling sounds heard especially with breathing out – are a trademark of symptom of asthma. Cough, often worse at night, is also common.
Whatever your experience with asthma, you are not alone. In a recent survey in developed countries, millions reported asthma symptoms during the preceding 12 months, including approximately 3.5 million children under the age of 15 years.
Millions of people have at one time in their lives been diagnosed with asthma by physicians.People of all ages have asthma; it occurs in all countries and among all populations around the world. Most strikingly, over the past 20 years asthma has become increasingly common in many parts of the industrialized world. We are in the midst at one side of the globe(wherever you are), some physicians would say, of an asthma epidemic.