By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

[MUSIC PLAYING] DR. ROSS: Hi I am Duane Ross,
I am the Medical Director of Government Programs here in
Albuquerque, New Mexico. NARRATOR: The topic
For May is asthma. Dr. Ross, what is asthma? DR. ROSS: Asthma is a chronic
lung disease characterized by inflammation of the airways.
This inflammation causes the airways to narrow, resulting
in wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and
coughing. Asthma affects approximately 25 million
people in the United States right now; about 7 million
of those are children. NARRATOR: What happens
during an asthma attack? DR. ROSS: Air ways that are
inflamed very sensitive and will tend to over react to things
that irritate them. When this happens, the muscles around
the airways constrict, the inflammation worsens, and the
lining of the airways may make more mucus. The result
is that the airways get narrower and narrower,
making it more and more difficult to move
air through them. NARRATOR: What are
the causes of asthma? DR. ROSS: Unfortunately, we
are still not certain what causes asthma, but multiple factors
appear to contribute. Genetics certainly play a role,
as do allergies and prior lung infections. Something that
is getting more attention lately is the so-called hygiene theory
which suggests that our modern focus on cleanliness
has kept our children from being exposed to things
that normally stimulate their immune systems. NARRATOR: Are there
things you can do to reduce the risk of
an asthma attack? DR. ROSS: If you have asthma,
it is important to identify your unique triggers and try to avoid
them as much as possible. Some common triggers include
allergens from dust, animal fur, mold, pollen, roaches. Some
asthma attacks are triggered by things like smoke, air
pollution, and sprays. Once you know your triggers,
there are many things that can be done to at least make
your home a relative safe zone. It is important to discuss
strategies with an expert, which may be your PCP, but
may also be a pulmonary specialist or a certified
asthma educator. NARRATOR: Is it safe to
exercise with asthma? DR. ROSS: Absolutely, when
managed appropriately. The goal of asthma
management is to control symptoms so they do
not prevent people from doing the things they need to do and
the things they want to do. Exercise is a trigger for some
people, but it is one trigger that should be managed, not
avoided. If exercise triggers your asthma, talk to your
provider about things you can do before exercise
to reduce the chance of an attack during exercise. NARRATOR: Can you
outgrow asthma? DR. ROSS: Not exactly. It is true
that some children stop having asthma symptoms as they get
older, but research shows that the airway inflammation is still
there. If the child’s symptoms were mild to begin with,
getting older and developing larger airways could allow the
symptoms to go away. It is also true that diagnosing asthma
in children is more difficult and sometimes the
diagnosis of asthma turns out to be incorrect. NARRATOR: What are the
treatments for asthma? DR. ROSS: An often overlooked
component of asthma management is environmental
control. It is extremely important to identify and
manage all your triggers. Beyond that, asthma is treated
with short-acting rescue medications and long-acting
controller medications, depending on the severity of
the symptoms. Some people are able to control their asthma
just with the occasional rescue medicine, while others need
different types of controller medications along with
a rescue medicine. Guidelines for treating asthma
are updated periodically and providers have to stay up to date
for all of these. Regardless of how your asthma is
managed, it is important that you are an active
participant. Your provider may work with you to develop
an asthma action plan so you know how to manage your
symptoms as they occur. [MUSIC PLAYING] [MUSIC ENDS]

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