Natural Health Nexis
This nhn Asthma Guide includes information about Asthma that is written primarily to help Asthma Patients better understand their condition and the range of Asthma treatment options that are currently available:
The root cause of asthma is not known. However, it is recognized that Asthma attacks are often brought on by 'Triggers', which are agents or conditions that irritate the airways leading to inflammation and often other associated effects such as excess mucus production and muscle contractions (bronchospasms). These inflamed airways then result in a variety of Asthma Symptoms.
Asthma Triggers may vary from person-to-person, and it's very important for Asthma sufferers to understand and manage exposure to their specific triggers in order to keep airway inflammation to a minimum and reduce the occurrence of their Asthma Symptoms:
Many clinicians and researchers speculate that both Environmental Factors and Genetic (Inherited) Factors play a role in causing the development of Asthma.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma (EPR-3) state that Atopy, the genetic predisposition for the development of an immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated response to common aeroallergens, is the strongest identifiable predisposing factor for developing asthma... Viral Respiratory Infections are one of the most important causes of asthma exacerbation and may also contribute to the development of asthma... It is also apparent that Allergen Exposure, Allergic Sensitization, and Respiratory Infections are not separate entities but function interactively in the eventual development of asthma.
Exposure to Allergens as a Cause of Asthma
The development of Asthma has been linked with Allergen Sensitization that often occurs in infancy, upon exposure to a range of environmental agents including Dust Mites, Cockroaches, Alternaria Fungi, Cat or Dog Dander... Once a person develops sensitivity to these triggers, each future exposure to them presents a high risk of an asthma attack developing.
Exposure to Viral Infections as a Cause of Asthma
Also during infancy, exposure to several types of respiratory virus, including Parainfluenza Virus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and Symptomatic Rhinovirus have been associated with development of Asthma or Asthma-like symptoms. However, other studies suggest that early exposure to respiratory infections like Measles or RSV can endow protection against the development of asthma.
Exposure to Other Environmental Factors as a Cause of Asthma
Exposure to Tobacco Smoke (especially second-hand smoking), or Air Pollution, has also been associated with the development of asthma. In particular, increased levels of air pollution have been strongly linked with increases in Aasthma Exacerbations and emergency care visits. Additionally, poor diet and the occurrence of obesity have also been indicated as risk factors associated with the development of Asthma, although a direct causal relationship has not been defined.
Following exposure to a trigger, an asthma attack is likely to develop - causing a range of symptoms, all associated with airflow obstruction.
According to the Canadian Asthma Society, this happens because of one or both of the following:
Both of these factors cause a restriction in the airways, increasing the difficulty of breathing and making the symptoms more severe.
Asthma Causes Summary
An Asthma patient's airways are inflamed to some (small) degree at all times. It seems that an Asthma Attack is precipitated when a Trigger causes the airways to become irritated and more inflamed, increasing their sensitivity, and leading to an increase in breathing difficulty and the onset of Asthma Symptoms.
Asthma Symptoms - Signs of Asthma
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