5 (Kind Of Surprising) Facts About Asthma

Written by on April 14, 2013 in Health - No comments | Print this page

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Child with AsthmaSpring is here, bringing on pollen, allergies, and – for many adults and children – asthma.

While the common asthma-attack triggers are known — for example, strenuous exercise and allergies — there are some facts about asthma that may be news.

Here are five facts likely to surprise you:

1. A little more than 9% of women are asthmatic, compared to 5% of men. But, before age 20, most asthmatics are male. There is no conclusive answer as to why this is so.

2. Childhood asthma attacks can be brought on by thunderstorms. A study by Emory University in 2008 found that 3% more children were brought to emergency rooms for treatment of asthma attacks on days following thunderstorms.

The Emory researchers advanced two theories on why: Thunderstorms increase the amounts of pollen and mold in the air; and/or that lightning increases the amounts of nitrogen dioxide and ozone in the air. Either way, the result is irritation of the lungs, which can trigger an attack.

Since triggers can be as unusual as this one, doctors recommend keeping a journal of your (or your child’s) asthma attacks to see if you can find patterns.

3. A fish diet for babies might prevent asthma. In a recent Dutch study, infants who were introduced to fish between their first six months and one year had a decreased risk of developing asthma later in life, compared to children who began eating fish before six months old or after their first birthday.

While not conclusive, the data is consistent with other studies that have suggested a similar conclusion. It’s believed that the fatty acids in fish might provide protection against asthma.

4. Watching television can increase the risk of asthma in children. No, the television does not emit secret asthma-causing beams of light. Rather, watching two hours of television per day indicates that a child is more likely to be sedentary than one who watches TV less often.

Being sedentary increases the likelihood of being obese, and obesity is a prime asthma risk factor, since extra weight can compress children’s lungs and make it hard for them to hold air in their lungs.

5. If you have asthma, getting an annual flu shot can be life-saving. That’s because asthmatics are more susceptible to serious flu complications, such as pneumonia. In children, this can be particularly dangerous. The annual flu-shot regimen should be started when the child is older than six months, and all asthmatic adults should get annual flu shots.

There is yet no cure for asthma, but medical science is uncovering more about how to minimize the frequency and severity of asthma-related attacks and complications. By keeping in step with the latest developments, you can empower yourself to be the best defense against asthma.

Note: The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not, nor is it ever intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice or professional recommendations, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician(s) or other qualified healthcare provider(s).

About the author: R.J. Lee is a freelance writer and blogger living in the great Midwest. He keeps the germs at bay by taking long walks in the hill country with his two big dogs, and by eating a balanced, healthful diet (most of the time). For more information on the symptoms and treatment of asthma, visit the new online Asthma Health Center at Lifescript.com.

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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