Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease in which swollen lung airways easily react to certain irritations, which leads to breathing difficulties. Asthma causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightening, and coughing. During an attack, these symptoms get worse. The seriousness of the disease varies. It could be an inconvenience for some, while for others, it may be a major problem that could cause death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states the best way to tell if you have asthma is to have your doctor check your lungs and also perform allergy tests, since diagnosing the disease can be difficult. In most cases, it is unclear what causes asthma. Certain factors however make the disease more likely for a person, including family health traits.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, asthma is seen more often in African Americans, affecting more than three million people. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America statistics show that African Americans are three times more likely to be hospitalized from the disease and are also three times more likely to die from asthma.
The disease is also one of the most prevalent health issues for African American children. Research from the United States Environmental Protection Agency indicate that African American children have a higher rate of developing asthma compared to any other ethnic group. They are also twice as likely to be hospitalized and four times more likely to die from asthma. Reasons for this may include social and economic status, access to health care, and exposure to environmental triggers, such as pollution.
The most common triggers for asthma attacks are cigarette smoke, dust mites, air pollution, cockroaches, pets, household sprays, certain infections and mold.
While there is no cure for asthma, it can be managed. The American Lung Association has the following steps to take control of asthma.
- Make Your Medical Visits More Satisfying
- Create an Asthma Management Plan
- Assess and Monitor Your Control
- Understand Your Medication
- Reduce Asthma Triggers
- Participate in an Asthma Self-Management Class
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