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How Does Asthma Affect Social Health

Explain Severe Asthma To Your Friends And Family

How does asthma work? – Christopher E. Gaw

People are often more understanding if they know why you have had to cancel or say no to invitations.

Talking openly to your family, friends and colleagues about your severe asthma can help them understand the condition. Someone who listens to you is more likely to:

  • Take your asthma seriously.
  • Understand if you have to take time off work or cancel social plans.
  • Feel less frightened and help you if youre having an asthma attack.
  • And youre likely to feel supported rather than misunderstood.

I think the worst thing Ive done in the past is tell people: ‘Its just asthma. No its not. Its severe asthma and its life-threatening. I think honesty is the best policy. Jo Beecroft

You can ask them to read our What is Severe Asthma? page to understand that the condition is completely different from the kind of asthma most people have.

Ask them to be part of your support team when youre out take a photo of your asthma action plan on your smartphone and email it to close friends and family so they know what to do if you have symptoms.

How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Asthma

Your healthcare provider will review your medical history, including information about your parents and siblings. Your provider will also ask you about your symptoms. Your provider will need to know any history of allergies, eczema and other lung diseases.

Your healthcare provider may order a chest X-ray, blood test or skin test. Your provider may order spirometry. This test measures airflow through your lungs.

What Happens During An Asthma Attack

Reviewed byDr Hayley Willacy

Asthma is a common condition that affects the smaller airways . From time to time the airways narrow in people who have asthma. The typical symptoms are wheeze, cough, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The extent of the narrowing, and how long each episode lasts, can vary greatly.

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Special Considerations: Vitamin D

Vitamin D insufficiency, higher in black populations , has been associated with asthma prevalence and morbidity however, a causal mechanism remains controversial. Multiple studies support a role for vitamin D via its anti-oxidant and immunomodulatory effects . Two meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials demonstrate that vitamin D supplementation reduced the rate of asthma exacerbations requiring systemic corticosteroids in both children and adults in ethnically diverse populations , .

Psychosocial Stress: Childhood Adversity and Community Violence

The high co-occurrence of psychiatric disease and asthma suggests there may be a link between an individuals psychologic health and asthma . Now, it is increasingly understood that beyond psychiatric disease, certain psychosocial stressors may increase risk of or worsen asthma.

How Is Asthma Diagnosed

Two in five with a lung condition will shield until there ...

To diagnose asthma, a doctor will do a physical exam and ask about the persons medical history, including whether anyone else in the family has asthma.

The doctor might do tests like spirometry or peak flow meter tests. These involve blowing into devices that can measure how well the lungs are working. Allergy tests or exercise tests can tell doctors if asthma is brought on by allergens or physical activity. Doctors may use X-rays to rule out other problems.

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How Does Asthma Affect Canadians

For the purpose of this fact sheet, we have focused on the subset of individuals with active asthma including only those who have had asthma symptoms or used asthma medications in the past 12 months. In 2009-10, more than 1.8 million Canadians were living with active asthma.

Only one in three had their asthma well-controlled.

  • Canadians under the age of 65 years, people with total household incomes below $80,000, and people living outside of an urban core were less likely to have their asthma well controlled. Current smokers and people with high blood pressure were also less likely to have their asthma controlled.
Table 1: Indicators of poorly controlled asthma.

Definition: “poorly controlled” asthma is defined as having at least one of the following indicators: Percent of active asthma respondents
Experienced asthma symptoms 4 days per week on average. 21.9%
10. Outdoor air pollution 46.1%

Each of the following triggers were reported by 43% or fewer of respondents: change in temperature or weather, chemical fumes or gases , perfumes or colognes, fumes from a wood stove or wood furnace, feathers in items such as pillows, quilts or duvets, laughing or crying, stress, certain foods, and certain medicines.

Emotional Effects Of Asthma

An asthma attack can be really scary. Trouble breathing, leading to the sensation of “air hunger,” often causes people to feel like they are going to die. Understandably, this can be pretty upsetting. Even when you aren’t currently having asthma symptoms, the fear of another attack could cause you to feel constantly anxious and afraid. Other people react in different ways. Instead of fear, they might feel embarrassed, angry, confused, or guilty.

All of these feelings are normal.

The emotional impact asthma has on you any may depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The severity of your asthma
  • How much asthma limits your activities
  • The level of your social and family support
  • How old you were when asthma symptoms started
  • Your level of asthma-related skills and knowledge
  • Overall personality and coping style

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A Tale Of Two Asthma Patients: How Social And Economic Factors Impact Asthma

News, Asthma, Health Disparities

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. It can be managed effectively when patients and families work together with their doctor on creating an Asthma Action Plan and receive asthma education on managing the disease.

However, many patients, especially those among certain racial and ethnic groups living in underserved or urban communities, experience major barriers to asthma control. These barriers include:

  • low household income
  • exposure to environmental allergens and irritants including air pollution
  • substandard housing
  • high levels of stress due to community violence

These communities are also impacted by access to care issues, such as:

  • lack of adequate health insurance coverage
  • overwhelmed local clinics
  • a shortage of healthcare providers skilled in understanding different cultures, including language barriers
  • low health literacy

How do these social determinants of health play out in the real world? Here are two case studies that illustrate the impact of social and economic factors on asthma health:

Inaction Is Not An Option

How do chest infections make asthma symptoms worse? | Asthma UK

There are two great barriers to asthma prevention and control throughout the world. The first is a major gap in knowledge concerning causation and primary prevention. Asthma is a syndrome with multiple phenotypes related to complex geneenvironment interactions. To address these gaps there is a need to scale up research on the topic worldwide. More funding, more collaboration and innovative approaches are urgently needed. Meanwhile, the outcomes of nationwide strategies based on plausible biological reasoning with simplification and standardisation of interventions and treatment such as those implemented in the Finnish Allergy Programme , should be closely considered for their potential application in LMICs. Lack of control of asthma is associated with avoidable reliance and expenditure on emergency care by underprivileged families and health systems that can hardly afford it . Simple interventions for management of asthma can control the disease, and reduce mortality, hospital admissions and costs , but they are not yet integrated to primary care policies or widely available. A crucial move towards feasibility and sustainability in LMICs would be the full integration of asthma management into primary healthcare routines, as reported in South Africa . Moreover, most subjects with asthma have concomitant rhinitis , which has been strongly associated with lack of control of asthma and is usually neglected by the health systems in LMICs.

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Asthma As A Global Disease

Asthma has clearly shown to be a global disease, however in last two decades was defined as a real public health problem affecting countries from all over the world and population of all age groups . However, there are differences among countries, with rates significantly above the average, for example, in some native English-speaking countries and, in contrast, much lower-than-average prevalence rates in some African and Asian countries .

Upon the first epidemiological publications on asthma, it was noted that asthma prevalence was higher in social classes with a high or very high annual income and that asthma severity was higher among the most disadvantaged. However, the latest epidemiological data from Africa, Latin America and Asia, showed that, in areas with low economic development, asthma prevalence has been increasing . Although there could be several explanations, the development of larger cities, with consequent reduction of rural areas, may have played a role. With most the world population living in urban areas, the environmental conditions as the lifestyle changes have certainly influenced the asthma prevalence rate increase .

Consequently, it can be said that asthma, worldwide, is globalized and affect all countries as a public health problem.

The Improving Social Determinants Of Health Act Of 2021

Congress recently reintroduced The Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2021 . It is a major step toward addressing inequities in SDOH.

If passed, this bill would empower the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a program to:

  • Improve health outcomes and reduce inequalities
  • Help public health and community organizations address SDOH

The CDCs program would then:

  • Ensure programs consider SDOH
  • Give grants to agencies and group to address SDOH in target communities
  • Give grants to nonprofits and universities to research SDOH best practices
  • Work with other federal agencies on SDOH activities
  • Collect and review data on SDOH activities

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America supports this law and the need for health equity now. AAFA is working closely with patient groups and lawmakers to build support for this bill. Rep. Nanette Barragán is a lead co-sponsor of the bill and is also a member of the House Asthma and Allergy Caucus.

Ask your legislators to support the Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2021. Use our tool below to send an email to your representative. You can also choose to post your message on Twitter. Just follow the steps:


The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America is the largest and oldest nonprofit patient organization dedicated to asthma and allergies. Our online community includes public blogs. To post a comment, you will need to register or .

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How Asthma Is Treated

While there is no cure for asthma, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition.

Treatment is based on two important goals, which are:

  • relieving symptoms
  • preventing future symptoms and attacks

For most people, this will involve the occasional or, more commonly, daily use of medications, usually taken using an inhaler. However, identifying and avoiding possible triggers is also important.

You should have a personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse that includes information about the medicines you need to take, how to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse, and what steps to take when they do so.

These symptoms are often worse at night and early in the morning, particularly if the condition is not well controlled. They may also develop or become worse in response to a certain trigger, such as exercise or exposure to an allergen.

Read our page on the causes of asthma for more information about potential triggers.

Speak to your GP if you think you or your child may have asthma. You should also talk to your doctor or asthma nurse if you have been diagnosed with asthma and you are finding it difficult to control the symptoms.

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Causes And Triggers Of Asthma

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Asthma is caused by swelling of the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. This makes the tubes highly sensitive, so they temporarily narrow.

It may happen randomly or after exposure to a trigger.

Common asthma triggers include:

  • infections like colds or flu

Identifying and avoiding your asthma triggers can help you keep your symptoms under control.

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Can Asthma Get Worse At Different Times In My Life

There are certain stages in your life that might affect your asthma. For example, some women find that being pregnant can make asthma either better or worse and hormonal changes, at puberty, menopause or during the menstrual cycle might have an impact too.

There are lots of other life changes that might temporarily affect your asthma symptoms. Stress, for example, whether from a relationship breakdown or family illness, can make symptoms worse.

Having frequent asthma attacks can also make asthma worse over time. Asthma attacks can cause scarring in your airways which makes them narrower. This is sometimes called airway remodelling.

If your airways are scarred and narrow, youre more likely to have worse symptoms more often.

Improving Quality Of Life In Severe Asthma

There are several interventions aimed at improving quality of life in severe asthma, both directly and indirectly. These interventions include behavioural and pharmacological treatments, and may involve single targeted treatments or bundled interventions, which include the assessment and treatment of related comorbidities and risk factors.

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How Do Normal Airways Work

When we breathe in, air moves through our airways from our nose or mouth, down a large hollow tube in the front of the neck called a windpipe or trachea and into our lungs.

The trachea divides into two tubes called bronchial tubes in the lungs. They look like upside-down trees. As the bronchial tubes pass through the lungs, they divide into smaller air passages called bronchioles . At the end of each bronchiole are tiny air sacs that fill up with air, like tiny balloons, each time we breathe in. These are called alveoli .

Air comes into our lungs each time we breathe in. This air has oxygen in it. Oxygen has a special job. It helps feed, or give energy to, all parts of our body so we can walk, talk, eat and exercise.

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Research For Your Health

Asthma for Families

The NHLBI is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health the Nations biomedical research agency that makes important scientific discovery to improve health and save lives. We are committed to advancing science and translating discoveries into clinical practice to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, including asthma. Learn about the current and future NHLBI efforts to improve health through research and scientific discovery.

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Asthma Symptoms In Children

Children are not always able to express in words that their asthma symptoms are worsening. They may have noticeable coughing and wheezing, but these are not always the first indications of breathing distress. Different children show asthma trouble in different ways.

Some possible indications of the beginning of an asthma episode include:

  • Unusual tiredness or restlessness
  • Frequent symptoms at night

Asthma Management Can Help

A single individual’s asthma does not necessarily remain in the same category permanently. A person with seasonal asthma triggers may find that at a certain time of year for instance, when ragweed pollen is in the air he or she is in a higher severity group than during the rest of the year.

Asthma that starts during childhood also may become less severe as a person grows and his or her airways become wider. For any person with asthma, effective ongoing asthma control can help them move into a less severe category.

The asthma experts at UI Health can help you bring your asthma under control. To request an appointment, please fill out the online form or call 312.996.3300.

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Measurement Of Quality Of Life

HRQoL is an independent predictor of clinical outcomes in asthma, such as exacerbations, urgent doctor visits and presentations to emergency departments.6466 Therefore, its valid and accurate measurement is crucial to ensuring that treatments meaningfully improve patients lives and clinical outcomes. Determining whether treatment has had a meaningful impact on HRQoL in the clinical setting requires measurement with reliable and valid tools. Patient-reported outcome measures are self-report questionnaires completed by patients that measure symptoms, functional and health status, and social and psychological wellbeing . In practice, these are infrequently used in severe asthma, largely due to their length, difficult administration and complex scoring structures, rendering them impractical in the clinical setting.67,68

Furthermore, a key recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration is that patient-reported outcome measures be fit for purpose,69 but none of the currently available asthma HRQoL measures have been developed specifically in a severe asthma population. This highlights a need for the development of fit-for-purpose severe asthma measures that can be easily implemented in the clinic.

Cold Weather And Asthma

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Cold weather is a common trigger for asthma symptoms.

There are things you can do to help control your symptoms in the cold:

  • carry your reliever inhaler with you at all times and keep taking your regular preventer inhaler as prescribed
  • if you need to use your inhaler more than usual, speak to your doctor about reviewing your treatment
  • keep warm and dry wear gloves, a scarf and a hat, and carry an umbrella
  • wrap a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth this will help warm up the air before you breathe it
  • try breathing in through your nose instead of your mouth your nose warms the air as you breathe

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