According to the newest statistics available from the American Lung Association's web site, over 20 million people in the United States have asthma. It is the primary reason that children miss school and end up in hospital emergency rooms. Reported new cases are increasing at a disturbing rate across age and class lines, especially within the African American population. Even more alarming is the rising mortality rate. This was recently brought to national attention after several young athletes died after suffering fatal asthma attacks.
Asthma is highly variable in its presentation, and this may be a key reason for the general public's misunderstanding of the facts. People suffering from asthma may display symptoms that range from a constant clearing of the throat, to a repeated cough, to a shortness of breath, to decidedly audible wheezing. There is no specific trigger that will provoke an attack in all asthmatics. And for those unfortunate people who suffer from severe, persistent asthma, the preventative medicines currently available may offer no relief at all. Management of this disease is an absolute necessity. Severe, repeated asthma attacks cause permanent damage to the lungs and open the door to the development of emphysema.
Asthma Mangement Countdown
Step One ~ Education. Asthma is a potentially life threatening disease. In simple terms, it is a chronic condition which causes the lungs to be overly sensitive to "triggers" such as:
a sudden change in air temperature (including leaving or entering an air conditioned building)
exposure to either extreme heat and humidity or extreme cold, dry air
insect stings or bites, animal and /or bird dander
exercising (exercise induced asthma)
dust, dust mites, roach droppings, pollen or mold
smoke, perfume or other strong odors
an upper respiratory infection
Step Two ~ Diagnosis. Get one by a trainedspecialist.
Step Three ~ "Med" Compliance. If your doctor perscribes medicines - take them! If you have questions or if you have difficulties with your meds - CALL YOUR DOCTOR. Insist that they explain how and when to use everything. If your doctor isn't user friendly - GET A NEW ONE.
Step Four ~ Workout. Asthmatics MUST exercise; specifically, they must exercise their lungs. Safe, monitored cardiovascular workouts and breath control training are essential.
Step Five ~ Communication. One of the most difficult hurdles for an asthmatic to overcome is talking about - IT. Asthmatic athletes, in particular, are frequently reluctant to reveal breathing difficulties to their coaches and teammates.
Step Six ~ Stamp Out The Stigma. Have you ever heard or even said: "Stop loafing, you're such a wimp! You don't have asthma, you're just lazy and out of shape, that's why you can't breathe!" In an attempt to tough out a "bad breathing day," or even an asthma attack, asthmatics sometimes refuse to admit even to themselves that they are in trouble. The denial of this reality can be a deadly mistake.
Competitive asthmatic athletes must have the support of informed coaches, training staff, teammates and a full awareness of the state of their illness in order train safely and to succeed in their sport.