More than 26 million Americans have asthma according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but do we know what it is? April is Asthma Awareness Month, and we talked to Dr. Wendall Colberg of SIMEDHealth Allergy and Asthma about some things people may not know about this disease.
1) The cause is still unknown.
Dr. Colberg says, "The exact cause of asthma is still unknown, but some factors can interact and cause it." Some examples of factors are a genetic disposition, suffering from certain respiratory infections as a child and having allergies. This is a chronic lung disorder, so the general path of strategy is recognizing and controlling it and not curing it.
2) It is not preventable.
Although you can't prevent asthma, you can work on containing its symptoms. First, you need to identify possible triggers like exposure to strong chemicals, smoke, upper respiratory infections, extreme emotional responses, GERD, allergies, air pollution, certain medications, and physical activity. Then maintain a healthy lifestyle accompanied by proper treatment depending on the level of severity of the disease.
3) Diet does not change or treat asthma.
The connection between diet and asthma remains inconclusive. There are no special cure-all diets, but vitamin insufficiencies in vitamin C, vitamin E, or omega three fatty acids have been studied and suspected to be associated with the disorder. Best recommendations are to keep a well-balanced diet for all people with this disease and avoid obesity.
On the other hand, if you are allergic to certain foods, you should avoid them, plus some preservatives like sulfites. These things can trigger temporary symptoms in some patients.
4) It is possible for some people's asthma to go into remission.
Some children may become asymptomatic, but doesn't mean they don't have the disease anymore. In some individuals, symptoms might resurface later in life. It is still not known what makes someone go "in remission." Studies do show that children whose asthma is severe past five years of age and who suffer from allergies or eczema early on in life are more likely to have lasting symptoms.
The patient though, should take an active role and work with the physician to help other conditions that may interfere with the treatment plus avoid triggers and establish an action plan to attain the goal of control.
Dr. Colberg is a board-certified allergist located in Ocala. Click here to learn more about SIMEDHealth Allergy and Asthma and to make an appointment.