Essay by Darian JamesJunior High, 9th gradeA, November 1996

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What is Asthma ?

Asthma is a disorder that affects 20% of Australians in their childhood. It causes airways to narrow making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms may include loss of breathe in cold weather, wheezing and whistling.

It may occur periodically in sudden sharp attacks. When an attack occurs -

The muscles around the wind pipe tighten shrinking the airways.

The wind pipe lining then swells (picture) and a mucus called phlegm develops causing the cough to intensify and slightly more painful.

What are the Causes and Triggers for asthma ?

Attacks of Asthma occur due to a blockage in the bronchial tubes. This blockage results from a spasm that narrows the windpipe causing breathing difficulty for the sufferer.

Asthma Triggers are things that make Asthma worse. Usual triggers are -

Respiratory infections eg. Colds, flu, sore throats and bronchitis

Allergic reactions sometimes cause Asthma eg. Pollen, foods, dust, animal fur or some seed.

Air irritants (similar to Allergic reactions) eg. Cigarette smoke, gases or dust.

Excessive/strenuous exercise can cause an Asthma attack.

Emotional Stress can also trigger an Asthma attack.

Symptoms of Asthma

Symptoms include wheezing from the chest or a slight whistling is heard when inhaling. It's even louder when exhaling.

Tightness of the chest, lung and lung area are closely associated with Asthma.

Treatment for asthma

There is no cure for Asthma but there are steps that doctors take to help relieve the symptoms of Asthma.

As a first step doctors try to remove or get the patient to avoid Asthma triggers such as 'animal dander' (eg. Fur or hairs). These are very likely to trigger an Asthma attack. Places where animals dwell are advised to be kept clear of for a sufferer. Since it is impossible to remove or avoid all triggers there...