Over the past five decades, we have witnessed a steady increase in Asthma cases in this country. Today, over 20 million Americans suffer from some type of Asthma, making it the most common chronic ailment in the United States today.
Asthma is a shortness of breath due to the contraction, inflammation, or mucus buildup within the lung’s airways. A number of things can trigger Asthma including environmental conditions, allergens, physical exertion, viral infections, a misalignment in your spine and even emotional stress.
Besides a shortness of breath, asthma symptoms include wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. Asthma attacks are dangerous and have the potential to become fatal if something is not done to open up the airways.
Some believe that our immune systems have become more sensitive because we are less likely to be exposed to infection than our ancestors were. We also spend much more time indoors now, where we are exposed to more dust and mold and the air that we breath (both inside and outside) is much more polluted than it was last century.
Our move from the country to the city has also led to a more sedentary lifestyle leading to obesity as we move less and sit more. The lack of exercise has been fingered as the main culprit in rise in asthma in our country and an exercise regime has been proven to be beneficial for today’s young asthmatics. Obesity and asthma seem to walk hand in hand together. As many as 75% of the people admitted to the ER for treatment of asthma are reported to be overweight. The lungs have less room to expand, fat also releases a hormone called leptin, which is thought to stimulate cells in your airway, leading to increased sensitivity to allergens.
Besides eating more food, the types of foods that we now eat might also be fanning the flames of this new epidemic. Some research indicates that our shift from grain to corn based nutrition may have helped increase our system sensitivity. Our massive intake of vitamins and minerals via fortified foods is also to be looked into. Sugar, soda and milk are also major culprits in stimulating an attack.
Asthma sufferers fall into two different categories: allergic and non-allergic.
Allergic, or extrinsic asthma is the most common type and is triggered by an allergic reaction by something you inhale. Immunoglobulin E is a antibody that the body produces in order to protect itself from foreigners. It resides in the lungs, skin and mucous membranes and it is responsible for most types of allergic reactions including eczema, hay fever and asthma.
Non-allergic, or intrinsic, asthma is caused by any other factors that do not happen to be allergens. These include upper respiratory infections, “stress”, anxiety, hyperventilation, smoke, viruses, a misalignment in your spine and even exercise.