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Asthma Rates Decrease in the U.S.

A national health survey conducted in 2013 has shown a critical decline in asthma rates across the United States, and while this is good news for parents of affected children, and asthmatics across the country, doctors are questioning the numbers and saying it might be too soon to celebrate. Jeannine Schiller from the CDC has stated her doubt, suggesting that this might be one of those blips in statistics that shows a change that has occurred randomly and won’t continue to decline. The medical community is hopeful, but a decline of almost 3 million people in a decade seems too good to be true. 

How Asthma Affects You

Asthma is considered a disease and affects carriers by restricting oxygen intake through the narrowing of air passages and chest tightness. It is a chronic condition that can continue throughout a patient’s life or disappear with age and better living conditions. Medical News Today says: “The inside walls of an asthmatic's airways are swollen or inflamed. This swelling or inflammation makes the airways extremely sensitive to irritations and increases your susceptibility to an allergic reaction.”

For this reason many asthmatics experience shortness of breath and during an attack when the tightness and narrowing becomes overwhelming, many even find themselves unable to catch their breath or stop couching. Wheezing and pain in the throat and chest can also occur during these attacks, which tend to be most prominent during physical activity or under stress.

Survey Statistics

The statistics from the survey claiming the drop in asthmatics throughout the United States also suggested that there have been considerably less asthma attacks overall. The numbers are based on interviews processed with more than 47 thousand residents of the U.S. and covered many races, age groups, living conditions and genders. CBC News reports: “For the past few years, about 8.6 per cent of Americans have said they have asthma. But in last year's survey, 7.4 per cent said they currently had it. That was the lowest mark in a decade, and represents a decline of more than 3 million people.”

A specialist in pediatric asthma from Emory University, Karen Freedle, has stated that an explanation for these changes is not available at this time, which is one reason why health officials are having a problem believing that the findings are accurate and will continue throughout the next decade as well. Statistics in other countries, such as Canada, did not report similar findings over the previous decade. In fact, Canadian statistics showed that as of 2010 8.5 % of the country had been diagnosed, and this rate followed suit with previous statistics dating back to 2001, showing no such change over the ten year span.

Causes of Attacks and Treatment Options

As mentioned above, many asthmatics will find their symptoms worsening under stress or in poor living conditions. For many who suffer from asthma, dust and other allergens can cause serious problems with breathing, and can cause coughing spasms among other problems. Physical activity that raises heart rate and causes heavy breathing can also be cause for alarm for some asthmatics as the narrowing of passages tends to worsen under these conditions. Unfortunately, no lasting treatment has been found to prevent asthma, or to rid patients of their symptoms. CTV News writes: “Experts say there's been no recent major advance in asthma treatment or improvement in the environment that would account for the latest figures.”

Most asthma sufferers will be prescribed one or two different oral inhalers that will directly transport medication into their air passages and lungs. These come in many brands and varieties, but the most common pump out a spray or powder, which then must be inhaled. For more serious cases, or during attacks, a ventilation machine may be necessary, which involves placing a mask over the patient’s face, and the medication being pumped into the mask to be inhaled. Different medications work differently for the varying degrees of asthma, and while some find great use out of the inhalers, others aren’t able to use them for daily breathing troubles, and must turn to the machine instead. Very young asthma patients also tend to use the machine over an inhaler, as it can be difficult for little mouths and lungs to properly breathe in the medication from the small inhalation device.

Creating an Asthma Action Plan

Although there’s no allover cure for asthma there have been improvements in treatments and care, and this might also have something to do with the low numbers being reported this decade. Many physicians are beginning to train their patients in self-care to combat the disease in a more organized manner. This plan might cover what to do if medication isn’t available, as well as what times of the day are best to take your medication. You may be asked to keep an asthma diary which can help both you and your doctor to determine when you have the most distress with your symptoms, what your diet and exercise might be doing to relieve or heighten symptoms as well as other factors in your life that could cause an overall difference in your treatment plan. Web MD advises: “For instance, your asthma action plan might list your asthma triggers and some ways to avoid them. Your asthma action plan may also list routine asthma symptoms and what you should do if these symptoms occur.”

You can also utilize a peak flow meter method of self-care, at which point medication, or a visit to your physician might be necessary. As air paths restrict during an asthma attack, much of the problems in breathing actually has to do with an inability to properly exhale, so one way that you can monitor your condition is by using peak flow meter. This method requires you to inhale as much as possible and then exhale and measure how quickly it is released. As you do this throughout the day, if you notice a drastic change in how quickly you exhale, this could mean the onset of an attack.

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