Asthma

Definition

Asthma is chronic, but treatable. It is a disease that causes an inflammation of the airways. The disease is recognizable by the symptoms of wheezing, tightness in the chest, coughing, and shortness of breath. The disease impacts all demographics with the symptoms first presenting during childhood. The disease often lasts an entire life time.

Asthma in Australia

Australia has a higher percentage of the population with asthma than the normal international average. The cause for this is unknown. Approximately 2 million people report symptoms related to asthma. The disease impacts all age levels but prevalence is higher in individuals who have reached the age of 75 and older. Death does occur as a result of asthma, but this is usually in the demographic older than 65. In areas of Australia where medical care is limited, deaths from asthma occur more often. Every year, Australia spends approximately 700 million dollars on issues related to asthma with most of the money being spent on medications.

The indigenous populations of Australia report a higher death rate related to asthma compared to the rest of Australia. This population also indicates more hospitalizations and an early exposure to smoking which may indirectly impact the onset of asthma related symptoms.

How Does It Happen?

Airways are cylindrical and responsible for allowing the transport of air from the outside of the body to the inside. When these become inflamed and asthma is present, these airways become swollen. The swelling of these tissues causes the muscles surrounding them to tighten. This, in turn causes a further narrowing of the airways and decreases the volume of air that can be inhaled. The tissue will also produce a mucous that will be sticky and dense. This fluid also serves to narrow the airway.

When these symptoms are combined with a smoking habit, the difficulty in breathing and the volume of actual oxygen being taken into the body becomes limited indeed.

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