I wanted to set aside an area to do a basic asthma FAQ that doesn't take up space in the blog. I do get some searches on asthma and I thought this might help!
What's the big deal with asthma?
If you know ten people, you know someone with asthma.
- It is estimated that 20.3 million Americans suffer from Asthma. Of those 20.3 million approximately 5.5 million are children.
- Asthma is responsible for more lost school days than any other chronic disease.
- Over the last 20 years there has been a 55% increase in the death rate from asthma. Every four days, someone in Washington state dies from asthma.
- The economic cost of asthma is tremendous - over $14 billion dollars is spent annually to keep asthma and its potentially deadly affects under control.
I thought only kids have asthma?
Data indicates that 3/4 of asthmatics are adults. Some have had asthma since childhood but in some cases asthma occurs in adults as well . Onset of asthma in adulthood is sometimes triggered by repiratory infections. Pneumonia, bronchitis and the flu may be followed by asthma symtoms. Infection induced asthma may gradually improve over several months, or may continue indefinetely. This is how I got asthma.
Many children that have asthma may see improvement as they grow and their airways enlarge. Sometimes they improve only to relapse in early adulthood. Adult asthmatics face different challenges since lung volume decreases as we age.
Is there more than one kind of asthma?
Absolutely! Most asthma is associated with allergies and care is taken to treat both the allergies and the asthma. The minority of asthma cases are non-allergic or intrinsic. This is what I have, I don't respond to trees, grasses, molds, dust or any other other traditional allergic triggers. But my airways react to smoke, air quality, perfume, household cleaners, candles, car exhaust, hairspray, paint, carpet glue, and many other scents and chemicals. This means that the best scenario for my asthma is to avoid these things! Not always easy!
What if I think I have asthma?
See your doctor. Seriously. There are tests that can determine whether you have asthma or not. For me, my positive response to asthma medications was an indication that I might have it.
The best thing you can do if you think you might have asthma or if your doctor tells you that you do, is become informed as quickly as possible. There is a lot of information available online and you will need to know what questions you should be asking your doctor in order to get the best possible treatment. Don't assume that your doctor will have the time to tell you everything you need to know. I can't tell you how many folks have said "They said I had asthma and gave me an inhaler. Now what?"
Some great sites are:
I am not an expert and can only speak to my asthma. With asthma being so different patient to patient, it's in your best interest to find out all you can so you be your own best advocate!
What medicines should I be taking?
Again, asthma is so different patient to patient... what works for one might not work at all for someone else. And you may have to try several medications to find what works for you. The first year, I had a bowl o' inhalers that hadn't worked!
Also, know that it takes time to get to know your asthma and how it acts. My estimate would be at least one to two years to figure out what makes you sick and how fast you get sick as well as how you get better and what works for you. My doctor and I now have this down to a science and we can pretty much predict what my asthma calendar will be like year to year!
Also, it's helpful to note that asthma can change. Medications that worked last year or last month may need to be adjusted. It's important to discuss any changes to your meds with your doctor.
Hopefully this is helpful to those newly asthmatic. Don't be afraid to shoot me an email under the Contact Me link...