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Asthma – What is It? How Many Have It?
Asthma is a disease in which an adult’s or child’s airways become blocked or narrowed. Shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, rapid breathing and chest tightness occur, usually temporarily in time but an eternity to the asthma sufferer. If an asthma episode is severe, a person may need emergency treatment to restore normal breathing. Asthma is a serious health risk that can cause death – Act, don’t wait!
More than an estimated 20 million people (1 in 15) in the United States have asthma, responsible for 500,000+ hospital stays each year. People with asthma can be of any race, age or sex, with treatment costs of billions of dollars each year.
Asthma can be non-allergic (intrinsic) or, in the great majority of cases, allergy related. Symptoms are similar, but because most have an allergy-based asthma, this form will be the primary subject of this report. People with asthma have inflamed airways which causes two secondary symptoms:
The bronchi are the airway branches leading to the lungs that become overly reactive and more sensitive to all kinds of asthma triggers such as allergens, cold and dry air, smoke and viruses. Second, the lungs have difficulty moving air in and out, called airflow obstruction. Together, these symptoms cause coughing, wheezing, tight chest, extreme fatigue and even extreme oxygen deprivation that can cause death.
Allergy asthma is characterized as stated by airway obstruction and inflammation that is, at minimum, partially reversible with medication, nutrition, oral nutritional supplementation and environmental aids. The challenge is to determine your allergens causing the asthma and then act to control and hopefully diminish the symptoms. Symptoms are usually targeted with patches to get instant relief, but long term control must come through immune response modification.
What Causes Asthma to Appear?
Most believe asthma is a disease you are born with due to heredity. When triggered, people with asthma have inflamed airways which are super-sensitive to things harmless to most people. These allergic “things,” or allergens, are called asthma "triggers."
Although asthma triggers vary by person, some of the most common include: dust mites, pollens, molds, pet dander, and even cockroach droppings. Asthma triggers may be things that you inhale, such as pollen or dust, fungus; or things that you eat, such as shellfish or dairy. You must avoid or limit your exposure to known allergens to prevent the misery of asthma symptoms.
Irritants in the environment can also bring on an asthma episode. These irritants may include paint and gasoline fumes, smoke, smog, aerosol sprays, cleansers, sprayer contents and environmental disturbances such as hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. Although people are not actually allergic to these items, they can aggravate inflamed, sensitive airways.
Smoking is also a high risk factor for asthma in children, and a common trigger of asthma symptoms for all ages. Studies have shown a clear link between secondhand smoke and asthma, especially in young people. Passive smoking may cause up to 26,000 new cases of asthma each year. Respiratory infections, usually viral, such as colds, flu, sore throats and sinus infections are frequent triggers and the top asthma trigger in children.
Exercise—especially in cold air—is a frequent asthma trigger. A form of asthma called exercise-induced asthma is triggered by physical activity. Symptoms of this kind of asthma may not appear until after several minutes of sustained exercise. The kind of physical activities that can bring on asthma symptoms include not only exercise, but also laughing, crying, holding one's breath, and hyperventilating (rapid, shallow breathing). The symptoms of exercise-induced asthma usually go away within a few hours after rest. With proper treatment and understanding, a child with exercise-induced asthma usually does not need to limit overall physical activity.
Weather such as dry wind, cold air, or sudden changes in weather can sometimes bring on an asthma episode. People with asthma are often able to predict the weather based on the sudden appearance of asthma symptoms!
Expressing strong emotions such as anger, fear or excitement changes your breathing -- even if you don’t have asthma, but strong emotions are triggers if asthma is suffered. When a person with asthma laughs, yells, or cries hard, natural airway changes may cause wheezing or other asthma symptoms. Use calming methods such as deep breathing and meditation and try to resolve the emotional issues rapidly.
Some medications, including aspirin or antibiotics for some, can also be related to episodes in adults who are super-sensitive to a medication.
What is an Allergy and How Do I Become Allergic?
Allergies are a collection of disease symptoms caused by an overaggressive immune response mistakenly identifying harmless substances (allergens) and attacking them as if they were dangerous health invaders (pathogens) to our bodies. A hyper immune response causing allergic reactions such as asthma is in need of the ability to recognize and distinguish between harmless allergens and dangerous pathogens (viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi-mold).
In the case of allergy asthma, through a complex reaction, allergens cause the passages in the airways of the lungs to become inflamed and swollen causing the coughing, wheezing and other asthma symptoms previously listed.
The unique factor in allergies is the majority of people do not respond to the symptoms that create havoc in the health of those with allergic reactions. The reason some have allergies and some do not? The exact answer is not known, but heredity is a major factor, even if asthma is latent in many until triggered.
An immune system operating normally at peak condition properly attacks only pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi that endanger our health and invade our bodies every second of every day.
Certain white immune cells called phagocytes, (monocytes and macrophages) when at peak condition are able to engulf, and dispose of the antigens (unique protein identifiers similar to name tags) present on every microorganism, including allergens that cause allergies and allergy-related asthma. Macrophages are the “Pac Men” of your immune system that act as vacuum cleaners and disposals for the millions of “things” that enter your body constantly that did not originate in the body i.e. non-self. Most non-self is harmless; pathogens are not and must be killed and removed quickly from the body.
With allergies, the immune system is demonstrating impaired vision; often unable to clearly distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. This mistaken identity of harmless allergens as dangerous pathogens causes the immune cells to attack, releasing histamines and causing asthma symptoms.
Described another way, if the alarm is sounded to attack a good guy mistakenly identified as a bad guy, you have an allergic reaction that often includes asthma. The best way to conquer allergies is to never get allergies. A sound logic, but how is it possible? The key is to boost your immune response to enable better recognition of what is truly harmful versus that which is not, and to respond only to the harmful.
Science has demonstrated micronized MG Beta glucan (not a product) nutritionally potentiates and modulates your immune response to aid in enhancement of recognition or redirection from mistaken to proper identity and then sounds the false alarm alert to bring the fire trucks of the immune system home where there is only smoke and no fire. No mistaken response results in allergy control through avoiding an allergic reaction.
The Allergic Response – How It Works
Initially, the macrophage white immune cells, as the first line of immune defense, misidentify the harmless allergens as pathogens, or foreign agents dangerous and harmful to our health.
The macrophages then sound the alarm and send out chemical protein faxes (cytokines) to the Helper T cells and the B cells to produce ammunition to fight back and destroy the allergens thought to be health threats. The ammunition produced by the immune system comes as specific health bullets known as antibodies. Antibodies are produced for real pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, but for allergies the antibody specifically is an immunoglobulin known as IgE.
These IgE antibodies then are circulated in your body and attach to cells in your tissues called mast cells (basophils) which contain granules of histamines. When a specific allergen, which may be ragweed pollen, a food or many other agents, comes in contact with the body again, the allergens attach to the mast cells with the antibody and histamine is released into the body. Allergy asthma symptoms are a frequent result.
This production of histamines to attack a harmless agent thought to be dangerous is an inappropriate reaction by the immune system known as hypersensitivity. The histamine attack causes what we then experience and call allergy symptoms.
Histamines in the upper airways cause inflammation or mucus secretion and spasms accompanied by narrowing of the airways and muscle constriction in asthma. Severe breathing difficulties and spasms of the chest that can be life threatening in advanced stages can occur.
Asthma medications may be either inhaled or in pill form and are divided into two types—quick-relief and long-term control. Quick-relief medicines including bronchodilators (don’t overuse!) are used to control the immediate symptoms of an asthma episode. In contrast, long-term control medicines do not provide relief immediately, but rather help to lessen the frequency and severity of episodes over time.
Like all medications, asthma treatments often have side effects such as drowsiness. Ask your doctor about the proper usage of inhalers and side effects of prescribed medications, including what warning signs should prompt calling your doctor.
Natural Aids to Help Promote Normal Breathing
Certain oral dietary supplements, herbs, minerals, vitamins and other aids can also provide help in promoting wellness from allergies and asthma nutritionally and naturally, including:
If your asthma persist or you have severe reactions, seek professional medical aid and advice immediately. Many of the ½ million hospital admittances annually due to asthma can be avoided with prompt attention. Help arrest the Thief that would steal your breath!
About the Author
Frank M. Jordan is a noted author, lecturer and researcher on beta glucan. Jordan received a degree in graduate studies from The University of Texas at Austin and serves as President of Carmel Research, Inc., a pioneer and leader for more than two decades in beta glucan research.
Reprinted by permission of Immunition Reports
The statements in this Report have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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