Asthma: Breathe Easy
Asthma is the medical term used to describe the narrowing of the airways in the lungs. Symptoms can include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and trouble breathing.
- Health writing is often heavily laden with jargon and foreign terms. The Cleveland Clinic has taken steps to alleviate some of this burden by supplying a glossary defining important, frequently appearing asthma terms. Reference it for clarification as you're reading.
- Children and pregnant women are affected differently than the average adult and thus require special resources. In this section we include general asthma resources but also sites with information catering to these two groups.
Depending on which resource you read, there are as few as four types of asthma, or as many as six. The disparity between sources is partly because allergic asthma and cockroach asthma (a type of allergic asthma) are often grouped together. Below you will find that we have outlined all six of the most common types of asthma.
- One of the lesser-known types of asthma is "cockroach asthma." This type is triggered by cockroach allergens and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is a significant percentage of asthma cases in many inner-city areas.
- The following sites offer not only introductory information on various types of asthma, but advice on how to cope with having them. WebMD, for instance, explains that exercise-induced asthma doesn't need to prohibit physical activity, and through "safe exercise" practices asthmatics can live normally.
Wheezing, coughing, and having overall difficulty breathing? There are several ways for you or your child to be tested for asthma, and even more ways to be treated.
- The Web sites we recommend here will take you through possible diagnostic tests as well as several types of traditional and alternative means of treatment. In addition to finding out where you can be treated, you will also find reviews of asthma medications and how to use your inhaler, peak flow meter, and other asthma medicines.
- In October 2004, the Asthmatic Schoolchildren's Treatment & Health Management Act was signed into law, which essentially encourages states to require schools to allow children to self-administer their asthma medications.
- In an effort to help the environment, U.S. health officials are phasing out asthma inhalers that contain ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). By the end of 2008, asthma patients will use inhalers powered by hydrofluoroalkanes (HFAs) instead. Read "Asthma Patients Must Switch Inhalers," a findingDulcinea Beyond the Headlines article, to learn more.
If you're interested in joining an organization to learn more about asthma or asthma medication or simply want to meet others who live with asthma or have asthmatic children, there is an organization for you and your family.
- The organizations below are concerned with providing both educational resources and community-based advocacy, along with new approaches to living with asthma.
- Many organizations have programs in place to allow asthmatics, their families, and their caregivers to connect for emotional and educational support. Among our Picks you'll find a few such organizations with particularly valuable support resources.
Curiosity piqued and would like to read more? From academic journals to online blogs, our Picks will provide you with the resources to find the type of information you're looking for in further reading.
- Medical journals are great sources for the latest developments in asthma research. Electronic versions of articles can occasionally be found for free, but generally access requires a pricey subscription. If an overview of the article will suffice, abstracts are almost always free and easily accessible
- Our Picks provide mainstream medical news as well as in-depth medical journals and studies about asthma. If you're interested in more overviews of asthma resources, MedlinePlus is a great resource that covers everything from the basics of asthma education to details of diagnosis and treatment options.