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WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America
WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America

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Asthma

Description: A chronic condition in which progressively smaller airways called bronchioles undergo changes when stimulated by allergens or other environmental triggers that cause patients to cough, wheeze, and experience shortness of breath.

Symptoms: An asthma attack can be induced by lung irritants such as animal dander, pollen, molds, and fungi; allergens such as dust mites (specifically mite feces, which are coated with enzymes that contain a powerful allergen); air pollution including cigarette smoke, diesel fumes, sulfur dioxide from power and paper industries, and nitrogen dioxide from exhaust and gas ovens; exercise; food allergies, occupational exposure to chemical triggers, cold air, thunderstorms, and extreme emotion; and genetic factors.

Number of Americans diagnosed: More than 17 million Americans have asthma.

Long-term problems/treatments: On a day-to-day basis, a strict drug regimen relieves severe symptoms best, including bronchodilators, medications that open the airways during an asthma attack. Asthmatics can take up to seven or more different drugs daily, including beta2 agonists, theophylline, and corticosteroids, also called glucocorticoids or steroids. An acute asthma attack may require hospitalization.
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Allies Against Asthma

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

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