Asthma is a chronic condition which affects more than 20 million Americans. Yet, despite the widespread prevalence of this illness, there are a number of myths surrounding this disease. For instance, it is not necessarily a life sentence; children have been known to outgrow its symptoms. Also, it can affect an individual at any age.

Asthma is an illness which blocks or narrows an individual’s airways. The symptoms tend to be temporary—in other words, they come and go. Tell-tale signs include shortness of breath, breathing trouble, and a chronic cough. If the symptoms become severe, an individual may require emergency treatment.

Asthma is a serious public health concern. It is estimated that the condition is the cause for nearly a half-million hospital stays annually. The treatment can be costly—some estimates put it as high as billions of dollars each year. It is important to point out that this illness can afflict people of any race, sex, or ethnic group. While treatment has become routine in the U.S., there remain a great many questions about its causes and the best methods of prevention. While it is a potentially life-threatening illness, in the majority of cases, treatment can control its symptoms and permit an individual to live a productive life. Allergic or extrinsic asthma refers to a condition in which the symptoms are triggered by an allergic reaction of some kind. This is the most common type of the disease. Allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, pollens, and mold can cause the passages in the airways of the lungs to experience inflammation and swelling, leading to an episode of asthma.

Non-allergic refers to a condition that is triggered by factors not related to allergies. Factors such as cold air, dry air, exercise, hyperventilation, stress, or anxiety can lead to this problem. However, many of the symptoms of non-allergic asthma are the same as those associated with allergy-related condition.

While it may be difficult to prevent from flaring up, there are steps a person can take in order to manage his or her treatment. One important thing to do is to minimize contact with triggers. After a the next attack, ask yourself what kinds of things you’ve been exposed to that might have triggered this episode.

Another important action to take is to take medications as prescribed. It has been estimated that more than half of people who use inhalers do not use them properly. As a result, it’s a good idea to check with a doctor or nurse to make sure that you are using your inhaler correctly to control attacks.

*Article by Anthony France