First, a little history
Asthma has been recognized throughout history as far back as Ancient Egypt. Around 450 BC, the respiratory problem was coined from the Greek word: ἅσθμα or asthma, meaning, “panting.” While epinephrine is commonly referred to the first asthma treatment in 1905, ancient societies have been treating asthma for centuries with a variety of substances, such as kyphi (an Egyptian incense), chloroform liniment, and pilocarpin.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease that inflames sufferer’s lungs and narrows the airways. Asthma causes periodic bouts of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. Coughing often occurs late at night or early in the morning.
Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts during adolescence. In the US, more than 25 million people are known to have asthma—and about 7 million of afflicted are children.
People who have asthma have inflamed airways—the tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. Their airways are swollen and very sensitive and tend to react strongly to certain inhaled substances. The reaction causes muscles around the airways to tighten and narrow—leaving less air to flow into the lungs. In people who have sensitive airways, asthma symptoms can be triggered by breathing in substances called allergens or triggers (pollen, cat hair, dust, mold, tobacco smoke, etc.) Many with asthma have a family history of allergies, and/or eczema.
The primary goals of treatment are:
- Control airway swelling
- Stay away from substances that trigger your symptoms
- Help sufferers be able to take part in normal activities without asthma symptoms
While asthma has no cure, with today’s knowledge and treatments most asthma sufferers are easily able to manage the disease and have few, if any, symptoms on a day-to-day basis.