(BlackDoctor.org) — Asthma is a disease of the lung airways. With asthma, the airways are inflamed (swollen) and react easily to certain “triggers,” like viruses, smoke, dust, mold, animal hair, roaches, or pollen. When the inflamed airways react, they get narrow and make it hard to breathe.
Common asthma symptoms are:
• coughing, especially at night
• wheezing — a whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe
• shortness of breath (feeling like you can’t get enough air)
• chest tightness, pain, or pressure
• faster breathing or noisy breathing
When these symptoms get worse, you are having an asthma attack.
The number of people with asthma keeps rising. More than 22 million people in the U.S. currently have asthma, and women are more likely to have asthma than men. African Americans go into the hospital more than whites because of asthma and are more likely to die from asthma than non-Hispanic white people.
These factors could increase your chances of getting asthma:
• air pollution
• poor housing
• lack of education
• not being able to get to a doctor
Asthma is different for each person. Some people find their attacks are triggered by things like smoke or being around pets. Others find that very cold air can bring on an attack. Try to figure out what your triggers are and if you can, stay away from them. Some things that may trigger an asthma attack include:
• dust mites
• cold air
• sulfites – found in dried fruits, wine, and other foods