It is frightening to lose control of your breathing, and many people with asthma live with that fear every day. You most likely take easy breathing for granted. But if you have ever struggled to catch your breath—whether it was during a coughing fit or after a fall that knocked the wind out of you—you’ve had a small taste of what life is like for people with asthma.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic condition that damages the tubes that transport air into and out of your lungs, making exhalation difficult. When we have asthma, our airways become congested, and we can breathe in but not out completely. Some typical asthma symptoms, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, are like breathing difficulty, chest constriction, wheezing and coughing. Currently, asthma is a significant chronic illness that affects 334 million people globally. Age, race, and ethnicity are not spared by the pandemic, although socioeconomic level and ethnicity do have an impact on the frequency, morbidity, and mortality of asthma in the United States and other nations across the world. In addition, asthma has a significant negative impact on many countries’ economies, health systems, and societies.
The Rise of Asthma & Chronic Allergies in the United States.
Asthma affects 7.7% of American adults and 8.4% of American children. One in 13 people battle with the illness, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma affects about 25 million Americans, including more than 5.5 million children. And more troubling is that asthma rates continue to be on the rise. The dramatic rise in asthma frequency was first noticed in the 1960s, and it has been followed by a comparable rise in chronic allergies, generating numerous ideas to explain this pandemic.
Although asthma is more frequent in children and is the major cause of chronic airway illness, it can arise at any age. With increasing age, distinguishing adult-onset asthma from other diagnoses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or Asthma-COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS) becomes more difficult, leading to frequent under or misdiagnosis. However, distinguishing between asthma, COPD, and ACOS is important not only for ensuring appropriate treatment, but also for risk stratification, as patients with ACOS have more exacerbations and a worse prognosis.
There are almost two million emergency department visits related to asthma exacerbations in the US alone each year. Disease control is important because individuals with severe chronic illness account for approximately 50% of asthma-related resource use although making up just 5% of the population. Ironically, only 5% of people with asthma are represented by these patients.
Why are Asthma and Allergy Cases Increasing?
Despite several studies on the issue, experts still do not have a conclusive explanation for why an increasing number of individuals are suffering from asthma and chronic allergies. There are, however, various plausible possibilities. The “hygiene hypothesis,” which claims that over-sanitizing a child’s living environment negatively influences their immune system and can lead to diminished disease resistance, was the first generally recognised notion in the late 1980s. Then in 2003, another theory surfaced. This one argued that the increased prevalence of asthma and allergy illnesses might be attributed to a loss of exposure to non-pathogenic microorganisms and commensal organisms. According to some studies, rising airborne pollens, energy-proofing of our indoor living spaces, urban air pollution, and antibiotic misuse are all contributing factors to the growth in allergies and asthma. Others believe that the main cause of asthma and allergies is the environment. Asthma comes in two primary varieties: allergic asthma, which is the most prevalent and is brought on by allergens like dust, pet hair, and cockroaches; and non-allergic asthma, which is often brought on by airway infections, stress, exercise, and tobacco.
The Top 10 Asthma Statistics:
- Asthma affects 7.7% of American adults and 8.4% of American children.
- There are about 6.2 million American children under the age of 18 who have asthma.
- Children under the age of 4 who experienced asthma episodes had to visit urgent care facilities or emergency rooms 31.1% of the time.
- Every day, 10 Americans pass away as a result of the illness.
- Asthma affects 13.4% of African-American children compared to 7.4% of Caucasian children.
- Compared to 5.4% of American men, 9.8% of American women who are at least 18 years old have the disorder.
- The countries with the highest rates of clinical asthma were Australia (21.5%) and Sweden (20.2%).
- According to estimates, 80% of asthmatics have no idea how to utilise an inhalator.
- Cannabis smoke remnants can make asthma symptoms worse.
- Antifungal medication is seen as beneficial by 87.1% of asthma patients.
Utilizing Biotechnology: A Step Toward Personalized Medicine
Scientists have created revolutionary medicines that have transformed the field of illness management and may be able to alter the projected course of these diseases as a result of the amazing amount of research being done on asthma and other associated allergy disorders. Large-scale research projects conducted by the scientific community have advanced knowledge of the immune system’s critical function in homeostasis and host defence. Researchers investigated and created biologic medicines that target certain immune processes in allergy illnesses as a result of this increased understanding. The crucial function of the immune system in homeostasis and host defence has been better understood as a result of a number of large-scale investigations. However, it is difficult to choose a single target due to the complex aetiology of allergic disorders and asthma. To get around these problems, researchers looked at small molecule and biologic medicines that target immune processes in allergic disorders.
There are three primary types of medications that can assist individuals in managing their asthma:
- Inhalers for well-controlled or intermittent asthma that work quickly (Ventolin, Xopenex)
- Using long-acting inhalers on a frequent basis to maintain symptom control (Advair, Symbicort)
- Biologics or injectable medications that specifically address a person’s asthma’s underlying causes (Xolair, Dupixent)
Which therapy—or set of therapies—is thus best for you? It depends on the kind of asthma you have and how severe it is. Understanding the type of asthma, you have might help you find a therapy because not all people have the same form of the disease and different processes contribute to it. The most effective strategy to treat a given patient’s particular subtype of asthma has been determined thanks to recent developments in asthma treatment. When discussing how to treat the various specific causes of asthma, injectable medicines and biologic therapies have taken centre stage. The appropriate asthma action plan for your symptoms can be determined in collaboration with your healthcare practitioner.
Asthma is still a very common chronic condition that contributes to the global overuse of healthcare resources that may be avoided. The prevalence is still significant, particularly in industrialised nations, and it may even be rising in certain low- and middle-income nations. However, it is challenging to estimate the real global burden of asthma since many nations either do not record prevalence or do not have reliable information. Fortunately, asthma mortality is uncommon; nonetheless, morbidity is a significant issue. The most expensive asthma patients are those who require hospitalizations and emergency department visits. Global health organisations have found solutions to reduce the burden of asthma, but implementation hurdles such physicians’ lack of expertise, inertia, and a lack of time and money continue to be a problem.