How Asthma is Changing Lives

Teresa Madaleno

How Asthma is changing lives

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 24-million Americans suffer from Asthma. Worldwide the number is about 3-hundred million and growing.

Asthma can hit at any age but people get the disease for different reasons. Triggers can include cold air, strenuous exercise and even stress. Many experts believe one of the biggest culprits is environmental pollution. It can cause the lining of the airways to become swollen and inflamed. There is less room for air to pass in and out of the lungs -not a nice feeling.

I recently met a woman from the Midwest who calls herself “Asthma mom”. She developed the disease as a child. She then married a man who also suffered from asthma. Together they have three beautiful children. Sadly, they all have asthma. Constant doctor’s appointments, races to the hospital and pinpointing triggers started to consume their lives. They tried avoiding populated areas such as large cities. As well, they avoid using tools and equipment that expel fumes of any kind. They thought perhaps living in the country would lower the frequency of the aggravating and sometimes life-threatening symptoms. It didn’t work out. They didn’t account for the exposure to farm tractors and diesel trucks hauling produce and cattle along the country roads.

We hear the word Asthma so often now that a lot of us who don’t suffer from it don’t give it much thought. It would be like giving a great deal of sympathy to someone who has a head cold right? Well, actually it’s a lot different. It is one of the most prevalent conditions affecting North Americans; however, if you had asthma you wouldn’t feel ordinary at all. People with asthma overreact to certain stimuli and at times their airways or bronchial tubes become so inflamed and sensitive attack occurs. Imagine the muscles around your bronchial tubes tightening, causing the airways to narrow then mucus forming within the tubes restricting air flow even more.

Asthma can be mild, moderate or severe; it varies from person to person and it can flare up at any time. Since asthma is a chronic condition, it often requires constant medical care. People who have moderate to severe asthma have to take long-term medications on a daily basis to prevent symptoms and attacks.

A few years ago “Asthma mom” decided to go back to school. She became a nurse and then a public health educator. She wants to help other families learn how to cope with asthma. She wants to convince industry to develop ways to reduce environmental pollution. She isn’t giving up, her family depends on it.