Asthma – part 1

March 28, 2013

Over the next few weeks, this blog will focus on asthma which is a common condition afflicting children and adults alike.

Asthma is defined as a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the lungs. It is characterised by wheezing, difficulty breathing, chest tightness and coughing. These symptoms occur more commonly at night time and first thing in the morning due to airflow obstruction. This is caused by narrowing of the airways which has been triggered by excess mucous, swelling, inflammation of the airway lining and tightness of the airway muscles.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, asthma affects one in ten Australians with approximately 2.3 million people reporting that they currently have it and that it is a chronic long term problem for them.

Asthma can manifest at any age with one third of cases developing before the age of 40 and almost half of all cases occurring during childhood. Together with New Zealand, childhood incidence of asthma in Australia is among one of the highest in the world. Interestingly, male children up to the age of 14 years have a higher prevalence (almost double) of asthma over their female counterparts. However, asthma is much more common in women once they are over the age of 15.

Typically, there is a strong family history of allergy in people who develop asthma and the immune system plays a role in this. The airways will become inflamed when the immune system is inappropriately responding to a substance that is considered to be harmless and which other people are not reacting to.

Some common risk factors and triggers for asthma include:

Air borne and seasonal allergens such as dust, dust mite, pollens, pets, mould and fungus
Air borne pollutants such as cigarette smoke, perfumes, car fumes, chemicals found in cleaning products
Food sensitivities such as dairy, wheat and salicylates
Rapid changes in temperature and humidity
Exposure to cold and dry air
Stress, anxiety and other emotional states that affect the way you breathe for example crying, laughing and shouting
Low immunity leading to increased susceptibility to respiratory infections
Low hydrochloric acid
If you or someone you love has breathing difficulties, it may be worthwhile to have spirometry test done to access how well your lungs are functioning. Spirometry is a reliable and effective way to measure your lungs ability to move air in and out of the body. The test is performed with a spirometer, a small device that can detect air volume. Individuals are asked to take a long deep breath and then exhale into the sensor for at least 6 seconds. This test is commonly performed by your doctor but it is exciting to announce that Saltuary will also be offering spirometry as a service to the local community. Please speak to our lovely staff if you are interested in having this test done.

I hope this information has been helpful.

Have a very safe and happy Easter long weekend everyone.

Wishing you vibrant health and happiness, Amy..

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