For many asthma sufferers, a single breath can only take in about six millimeters of air - the diameter of a standard straw. More than 20 million Americans suffer from one of the two categories of asthma, allergic and non-allergic, each with different causes and treatment alternatives.
Allergic symptoms, which include coughing, wheezing and chest tightness, are triggered by a person's allergic reactions. These are usually allergens found in the air such as pollen and pet dander. More than half of asthma sufferers have this form, which can be partially reversed and eased through medication.
Stress, anxiety, cold or dry air, smoke, viruses and environmental factors are triggers for non-allergic asthma. The symptoms are similar to allergic asthma, with the most serious being difficulty breathing.
While asthma afflicts people of all ages across the nation, New York City public health officials are striving to curtail the epidemic within the city. Garbage, insects, mold, mice and rats can all lead to asthma-inducing environments. The New York City Council is aggressively pursuing legislation that would require landlords to address factors leading to what is being called a public health crisis. The ordinance will enforce regulations on these factors and outline a training program for tenants on how to further reduce asthma risks.
The symbol of asthma treatment is the inhaler, historically carried by lovebale nerds around the world, and realistically carried by asthma sufferers everythwere. These inhalers deliver necessary medication quickly and directly to the distressed airway, making it possible to breathe freely again. Medications for asthma are also available in pill form, although medical experts emphasize that the best treatment plan for asthma is to remove the causes completely.
"In addition to finding the right medication plan for your asthma, it is important in asthma treatment to recognize what triggers your individual attacks and to remove those triggers from your environment," says Dr. Navarra Rodriguez, Chief Medical Officer of Manhattan's Physician Group. "This will ease symptoms, lessen the frequency and severity of attacks, and contribute to a more normal lifestyle."
To learn more about asthma and to find which treatment or prevention plan is right for you, speak with your doctor.