Is it asthma, or something else?

July 20, 2011 By Timothy Craig

Asthma affects nearly 300 million people worldwide, and 24.6 million Americans had asthma in 2009. In severe forms, asthma can be deadly; however asthma-related deaths have been decreasing thanks to medical advances.

Asthma symptoms include coughing, mucus production, difficulty breathing, and chest tightness triggered usually by identifiable causes. Males are more prone to have before puberty; however, females are more prone to have asthma after , and the incidence for both groups has been increasing. For all children, the asthma rate increased to 9.6 percent from 8.7 percent over the decade, with 11.3 percent of boys affected and 7.9 percent of girls affected. In adults, the asthma rate increased from 6.9 percent in 2001 to 7.7 percent in 2009, with 5.5 percent of men affected and 9.7 percent of women affected, according to recent reports from the . Asthma rates are highest in the northeast and midwest regions of the country.

All people who have asthma should be screened with pulmonary function testing to determine the severity of their disease and the appropriate therapy.

Often asthma is confused with COPD, a chronic disease of the lungs that results from tobacco abuse or . COPD can lead to significant reduction in quality of life and an increase risk of disability and death. As with asthma, therapies are effective to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and to reduce disability and death. The greatest problem with COPD is diagnosing it before it has progressed too far. Stopping smoking is the greatest benefit for COPD and can significantly improve a patient lifestyle. Pulmonary function tests can be used to diagnosis, determine the severity of and follow COPD.

One form of COPD is caused by a deficiency of a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin. Without this protein, people can get COPD very early in life even without smoking. However there is a test to screen for this protein. If you have severe asthma, COPD or a family history of COPD you should be screened for this deficiency.

On Aug. 20, the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology clinic in the Department of Medicine at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center will hold a free screening to determine if you have asthma, COPD or alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency. A short history, exam and test and a finger stick for a drop of blood will be conducted.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Antibody found that fight MERS coronavirus

July 28, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has found a MERS neutralizing antibody—a discovery that could perhaps lead to a treatment for people infected with the virus. In their paper published in Proceedings ...

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.