Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Asthma Symptoms and How to Prevent Asthma

Asthma is an allergic inflammation of the lungs, which can be triggered by air pollutants, pollens, molds, dust, animal dander, chemicals, exercise, foods or even changes in temperature. These triggers produce allergens, which are then absorbed into the blood stream causing the B cells or white blood cells to produce billions of molecules of the antibody IgE. These IgE molecules in the bloodstream then combine with the mast cells, which line the blood vessels or basophils, a type of white blood cell.

Mast cells and basophils both contain histamine and serotonin, and the antibody IgE causes the mast cells and basophils to leak the histamine and serotonin into the blood stream. In addition to this, the production of a group of fatty acids called lucotrienes or Lt's are the primary cause of asthma symptoms. Lt's are formed by the combination or action of two enzymes, phospholipase A2 and lipxygenase.

When you experience an asthma attack, the walls of the lungs become inflamed and the mucus membranes fill with fluid and thick, sticky mucus making it difficult to breathe.

Common asthma symptoms are a scratchy throat, coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and a tight feeling in the chest. An asthma attack can be mild, moderate or severe and lasting for a few minutes, hours, or even several days.

Knowing when to get emergency help for a severe attack can save your life. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, f you are experiencing the following, you should seek immediate medical attention:

medication does not seem to be helping you,

extreme difficulty breathing, talking and walking,

your fingernails or lips are turning blue,

chest feels tight and your ribs are pulled inward as you breathe,

nostrils are flaring when you breath

There are currently 15 to 17 million Americans suffering from asthma, and it is considered the most common chronic illness affecting children. From 1982 to 1994 the annual death rate from asthma rose 75% and is continuing to rise. This increase is occurring in the general population and not just within genetically predisposed families. A public awareness campaign is being launched to educate parents about asthma prevention.

What are Dust Mites?

Dust mites are microscopic insects and live in bedding, pillows, mattresses, blankets, upholstery, carpets etc. They thrive particularly in humid climates. They live off of dead skin cells and produce an allergen from their excrement which is inhaled.

All Homes Contain Dust Mites No Matter How Clean They Are.

Studies have shown that dust mite allergens in the home must be reduced to at least 2mcg/g dust or mite populations decreased to 100/g dust to have any significant benefit. There are several things that can be done to accomplish this.

What Can Be Done To Eliminate or Reduce Dust Mites?

Researchers have found through numerous studies that these are the most effective measures:

Changing the relative humidity and temperature of the home: keeping relative humidity less than 50% is proven to greatly reduce the dust mite population. (Portable dehumidifiers were not shown to significantly reduce humidity).

Mechanical ventilation with a heat recovery unit has proved to be the most effective to reduce humidity in the home.

Using air cleaners that have HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which will also eliminate other allergens such as pollen and animal dander.

Cleaning using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and steam cleaning rugs and upholstery regularly.

Washing all bedding in hot water (60 degrees C, 130 degrees F) on a weekly basis is known to kill dust mites. Drying bedding in a hot dryer.

Dry cleaning quilts and blankets weekly will also kill dust mites.

Placing plastic casings specifically made for dust mite control on pillows and mattresses.

Chemicals used on carpets and upholstery which are known to kill dust mites include benzyl benzoate, permethrin, pirimiphos methyl, phenyl salicylate, tannic acid, common household disinfectants, combinations of these, and insect growth regulators.