What are Allergies and Asthma?
Compared with other diseases, allergies and asthma, for the vast majority of patients, do not pose life-threatening health risks.
That’s the good news.
On the debit side, however, bouts of sneezing, itching, wheezing, runny nose, and so on can make life miserable. The victims of allergies and asthma have good reason to complain of a poorer quality of life. Their main goal is relief of symptoms.
Allergies and asthma are complicated health problems with many causative factors, and each person’s ailment is highly individualized. For example, there has been much debate about the definition of asthma.
For our purposes, we’ll leave scientific and medical discussions to other books. What we propose to do is to provide understanding of your environment and some helpful tips to improve your environment.
There is no question that outstanding advances have been made by the scientific and medical communities in the treatment of allergies and asthma. Healthcare companies are producing more effective medications to provide relief of symptoms without causing side effects.
Medical textbooks advocate three primary treatments for sufferers.
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy)
- Environmental control
The last treatment is difficult for the physician to enforce. Ideally he/she would have to visit your home, observe, analyze, and recommend. As vital as this appears, it would be an unrealistic use of his or her time. The fact is, though, that home environmental control is common sense coupled with a thorough approach.
You cannot do much about your outside environment, but you can do a great deal to improve the environment of your home. The goal of this booklet is to focus on specific allergens and irritants that can cause problems and to help you create an improved, “purer” home environment. We would like to see you create at least one “unpolluted” room in your home, preferably your bedroom, where you spend a major part of your time.
This is a “how to” approach to achieving these goals. If you follow the guidelines, you will be helping your doctor treat your condition and you probably will find that your quality of life improves.
Who is at risk of developing asthma?
Asthma is common, affecting 5 – 10% of the population.
Asthma is one of the most common conditions of childhood.
Asthma is closely linked to allergies.
Asthma can run in families.
Most but not all people with asthma have allergies.
Children with a family history of allergy and asthma are more likely to have asthma.
Although asthma affects people of all ages, it most often starts in childhood.
More boys have asthma than girls.
In adulthood, more women have asthma than men.
Although asthma affects people of all races, African American are more likely than Caucasians to be hospitalized for asthma attacks.
The good news about asthma
Unlike other respiratory diseases like bronchitis and emphysema, asthma does not tend to cause permanent damage.
There are excellent prescription medications available from your physician and pharmacist to treat asthma either by relieving symptoms (reliever medications) or by controlling them on a long term basis and preventing attacks (preventer medications).
You can learn to monitor and predict asthma attacks or prevent them altogether.
You can find out what there is in the environment or in your lifestyle that might bring on or trigger an asthma attack or symptoms and take measures to minimize it.
Asthma is not contagious; you cannot pass it on to someone else like the flu or a cold.
Understanding this health condition and working with your physician on a treatment and prevention plan will give you the power to take part in your own treatment and enjoy a healthy, active life without fear of disability or being hospitalized.
The bottom line is that what you thought was a frightening condition can become nothing more than an occasional inconvenience. All the good news above will become more meaningful as you continue reading this book.
The ABC of preventing asthma attacks
The following are the 3 primary methods you can take to prevent asthma attacks:
Avoid the triggers that cause your asthma attacks. This is the most natural and common sense approach to preventing symptoms or an attack.
Be prepared: know your treatment plan, including emergency procedures and how and when to use your medications.
Control the progress of your asthma through knowing the warning signs and using a peak flow meter.