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


I have always had asthma since I was a child The lungs are like an upside down tree and the tubes that surround the airways start to constrict. When I was a child having asthma meant that I was kind of afraid of really going for it in sports
or in play or exercise. Unfortunately asthma is a disease that still
kills people the people who tend to die are in the
younger age range between 15 to 30 The first thing you realise and really it is almost a mental
realisation you don’t really feel it in your throat or in your chest is that something is forced about your breathing .
I think in the last century there has been some truly landmarked discoveries, firstly
was the discovery of the receptors found on the
muscle and that they were activated by adrenaline. Depending on how serious it gets it feels like your lungs are just
shrinking up into the tops of your shoulders.
Animals certainly have helped us in both identifying the actions of adrenaline and then being used to test these
different analogues of adrenalin that ultimately gave us, not only Salbutamol, which is the most widely prescribed breather in the world but other drugs that look like
salbutamol. You can’t bring in any air and you can’t push it down to any where useful inside your body but if it has reached that stage and I
don’t have an inhaler it is really worrying it is really scary There are 2 main types of treatment for
asthma, 1 are those drugs that we sometimes call
relievers or bronchodilators that are able to very quickly relax the
muscles round the airway and make people feel better and relieve them of
their symptoms you may have a drug that works but you then have this difficult question of how do you formulate it to put it in something like this, that
will sit in the shelf, for 6 months if necessary and you know that the next time you puff
it you’re going to get delivered the amount
of drug you want and it has not gone off. Animals have helped in that process
as well. The second class of drug are really the drugs that we sometimes call
preventors where they don’t make people feel better
immediately but what they do is reduce the inflammation in the airway wall make the airway wall less twitchy and less susceptible to environmental stimuli and triggers and therefore people have less symptoms My asthma gets triggered by a really wide range of things from being around too much cigarette smoke if I have a beer and then go out in the
cold air, it gets me every time The other thing that has certainly happened
over the last century is really the understanding that a lot
of asthma can be caused by allergy and our understanding of allergy and
particularly the antibodies in the body that allow allergy to occur have all been helped by work on animals
and understanding the process of the different chemicals that are released during
an allergic response and you can trace back the drugs that we now used to
treat asthma that inhibit the action of these chemicals, to work in the 1930’s on guinea pigs looking at the effects of snake venom I mean, I have not had a bad attack for years
now. The last serious one was 2 or 3 years ago and you know and that’s one where the
chemicals they stop it becoming really critical. Today we have a very wide
range of medicines for treating asthmatics and indeed if asthmatics treat themselves properly they can lead normal lives and we have got good examples of people
who can run in the olympics and win medals. Now, as I have said, I feel more in control


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