What is Asthma?

Asthma is described by the Mayo Clinic as “a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. It can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.” There are different levels of severity, types, and causes of asthma. There has been a lot of research on why some people have asthma and others don’t, but its origin is still unknown.

In the late 1980’s the Hygiene Hypothesis was introduced by David P. Strachan. Strachan found that people who were raised in houses with more children had fewer allergies and asthma attacks. Then in the 1990’s Dr. Erika von Mutius compared the rates of allergies and asthma in East and West Germany, and thought that children who grew up in less clean conditions would have more cases of asthma but found it was the opposite.

In the past they used to treat asthma with tea or coffee.”

— Addie Wallace

She then changed her hypothesis and stated that children who have been raised in more clean areas have a greater risk of asthma or allergies because their bodies have not created an immunity to the things around them.

There are many different things that can trigger asthma attacks and it is different for every person who has it. There are outdoor allergens like pollen from grass, trees, and weeds. The indoor allergens are things like pet dander, dust mites, and mold. Some drugs, medicines, and food additives can cause an asthma attack. Illness, exercise, stress, weather and air pollution can also cause attacks.

In the past asthma was treated with tea or coffee. Doctors used tea and coffee because they thought that if you were sleeping or in a tired state the asthma would be worse, the tea actually acts similar to the medicine used now because it opens up the lungs so you can breathe better. To treat asthma now,  you can go to an allergist or an asthma specialist. Physicians can prescribe medicine that will help the the lungs open up so the person can breathe better. There are different types of medicine; there is one for emergency and for long term treatment. Sometimes getting allergy shots can help control the symptoms.

Research continues in an effort to find the causes of asthma and hopefully that will eventually lead to a cure.