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

Chances are,
someone you know has asthma. You might have memories of
a classmate with an inhaler or a family member experiencing
shortness of breath. But that’s often where our
asthma knowledge stops. Asthma is more common
than you might think. About 26 million people in the
U.S. suffer from the disease, and up to 10% have severe asthma. When an asthma attack occurs, muscles around the airways contract and the airways become inflamed, producing extra mucus and
causing difficulty breathing. Symptoms can include
tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and wheezing. Asthma attacks can be caused
by environmental factors, like poor air quality
or chemical irritants, as well as allergic triggers
like dander, pollen and mold. Some people, especially adult women, have symptoms that are
severe and uncontrolled despite proper inhaler use and
taking medication regularly. These symptoms can even
be life-threatening. Signs that severe asthma
may be uncontrolled include experiencing symptoms
more than twice a week, use of rescue inhalers
more than twice a week, recurring emergency room visits and frequent doses of
oral corticosteroids. For many of these patients,
an underlying factor is elevated numbers of white blood
cells, called eosinophils. This can lead to inflamed
airways and a condition called eosinophilic asthma, or e-asthma. When eosinophilic asthma is uncontrolled, patients can have a greater
risk for future asthma attacks and worsening lung function over time. A blood test can help diagnose e-asthma and help determine the
right treatment plan, so asthma sufferers should speak with their healthcare teams
and ask for a blood test today. It can change how asthma is managed.

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