Those who suffer from asthma may have a different mix of fungi in their lungs than those who do not, says a new study from researchers at the School of Medicine at Cardiff University in Wales.
For the study, lead researcher Hugo van Woerden and his team analyzed the fungi in mucus from participants with and without asthma. They found a total 136 different species of fungi living within the lungs of all participants. Ninety of those species were more common in asthma patients while 46 were more common in non-asthma participants.
"Our analysis found that there are large numbers of fungi present in healthy human lungs. The study also demonstrates that asthma patients have a large number of fungi in their lungs and that the species of fungi are quite different to those present in the lungs of healthy individuals," writes Woerden.
by RTT Staff Writer
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Environmental Health
Your environment is everything around you—the air you breathe, the water you drink, the community you live in, the places where your food is grown or prepared, your workplace, and your home. When your environment is safe and healthy, you are more likely to stay healthy. But when your environment exposes you to dangerous events or toxic substances, your health can be negatively affected.
CDC is committed to saving lives and protecting people from environmental hazards by responding to natural and man-made disasters, supporting state and city public health programs, educating communities, and providing scientific knowledge. We help maintain and improve the health of Americans by promoting a healthy environment and preventing premature death and avoidable illness caused by environmental and related factors. We also identify how people might be exposed to hazardous substances in the environment and assess exposures to determine if they are hazardous to human health. CDC invests in prevention to improve health and save money by reducing health care costs. We remain committed to maximizing the impact of every dollar entrusted to the agency.
National Asthma Control Program
Asthma is a common disease that is on the rise. It has significant health disparities and associated health care costs. CDC has been working with states for more than 10 years to implement and evaluate community-based interventions, build community-based coalitions, and track the disease burden. As a result of CDC’s work, people with asthma control their disease and live healthier, more productive lives.
Read more about the National Asthma Contraol Program here.
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Smoking rates are different from state to state. The percentage of people with asthma who smoke ranges from about 12% in Minnesota and Utah to about 32% in Kentucky. The states with the highest percentage of people with asthma who smoke are clustered in the Midwest and South regions.
CDC’s National Asthma Control Program (NACP) was created in 1999 to help the millions of people with asthma in the United States gain control over their disease. The NACP conducts national asthma surveillance and funds states to help them improve their asthma surveillance and to focus efforts and resources where they are needed.
Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 2010
* Includes persons who answered “yes” to the questions: “Have you ever been told by a doctor, nurse, or other health professional that you had asthma?” and “Do you still have asthma?”
U.S. Total includes 50 states plus DC and excludes Puerto Rico and the two territories
** Estimate is unreliable if the unweighted sample size for the denominator was < 50 or relative standard error was > 0.30

Take a look at the Percentage of People with Asthma who Smoke by state, by viewing here.

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The study found that children born to parents who sought treatment for fertility issues were more likely to experience asthma, wheezing and to be taking asthma medication at the age of 5 than children who were conceived without medical intervention. 
The researchers did not find that the parents’ infertility treatments caused asthma in their children, but rather that there is a slightly higher chance that children born after fertility treatments might develop asthma. More research is needed to better understand the link.
Claire Carson, PhD, a researcher at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford (UK), and colleagues led the study to find out if there was a link between parents’ infertility treatments and the likelihood that their children would develop asthma.
The study authors used data from a larger study called the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) to perform their research. The MCS has followed over 18,000 children in the United Kingdom born between 2000 and 2002.
The children were recruited into the MCS at nine months of age. Interviews were performed with their caretakers to get demographic information. Health data for both parents and children was also gathered, including information about the pregnancy and any infertility treatment.
The infertility treatments they asked about included assisted reproductive technologies (ART) like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a technique sometimes used in IVF.
The children were followed up at 3, 5 and 7 years of age. Data for the present study was used from 13,000 of the MCS children at the 5- and 7-year follow-ups.
At these follow-ups, caretakers were asked what experiences their child had had with asthma or wheezing, including how often the symptoms occurred, how severe they were and if the child was taking medication.
The results showed that approximately 15 percent of the total study population had asthma at ages of 5 and 7 years. Of the children born to parents who had used infertility treatments, 24 percent had asthma at ages 5 and 7.
In this group, boys had higher rates of asthma than girls. At the ages of 5 and 7 years, 17 percent of the boys had asthma while 12 percent of the girls were asthmatic. 
The asthmatic children had several things in common. They were more likely to have a family history of asthma, to have less...
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Spirometry is fundamental to making a diagnosis of COPD and a confident diagnosis of COPD can only be made with spirometry. However, there is no single diagnostic test for COPD. Making a diagnosis relies on clinical judgement based on a combination of history, physical examination and confirmation of the presence of airflow obstruction using spirometry.
Spirometry is the only accurate method of measuring the airflow obstruction in patients with COPD. Peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) measurement may significantly underestimate the severity of the airflow limitation.
A diagnosis of airflow obstruction can be made if the FEV1/FVC <0.7 (ie 70%) and FEV1 <80% predicted.
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) classification of the severity of COPD:
  • Stage 1 - mild: 80% or above (symptoms should be present to diagnose COPD in people with mild airflow obstruction).
  • Stage 2 - moderate: 50-79%.
  • Stage 3 - severe: 30-49%.
  • Stage 4 - very severe: below 30% (or FEV1 less than 50% but with respiratory failure).
The presence of airflow obstruction should be confirmed by performing post-bronchodilator spirometry.
Changes in the flow volume loop may give additional information about mild airflow obstruction.
For more on Spirometry in Primary Care, read more here.
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Screening smokers with spirometry for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) picks up more cases than symptom-based detection, research suggests.
The authors say the findings highlight the need for more screening in primary care, which is seldom used at present.
"Despite current and updated GOLD [Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease] guidelines that recommend case-finding studies for early diagnosis of COPD, the present study showed that a screening program aimed at all smokers may also be a positive strategy if economic resources are available," say Raul Sansores (Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Respiratorias, Mexico City, Mexico) and colleagues.
The study included 1999 participants who underwent spirometry after reporting symptoms of cough, phlegm, wheezing, and shortness of breath, and 782 participants recruited from a smoking cessation program. All participants were current or former smokers with a cumulative past consumption of at least 10 pack-years.
A significantly greater proportion of participants in the screening group were classified as having COPD according to the GOLD classification compared with the symptom-based group (13.3 vs 10.1%).
Dyspnea was the most common symptom in the two groups, occurring in 56% in the symptom-based group and 55% in the screening group. Regression analyses showed that it was the only risk factor that predicted COPD in both strategies, being associated with a two-fold increase in the odds of diagnosis compared with patients without it. Meanwhile, patients in the symptom-based group had a significantly higher incidence of cough, phlegm, wheezing, and history of bronchitis and emphysema than the screening group.
The authors say that previous studies have shown that spirometry is often not performed on smokers or patients presenting with symptoms. This has led to an underestimation of the worldwide prevalence of COPD, as well as missed opportunities for early treatment.
"All lines of evidence overwhelmingly demonstrate that the identification of smokers (with or without symptoms) may also be useful, not only to detect an important number of smokers with COPD but also to increase awareness about COPD, to prevent its development, to encourage smoking cessation and to decrease the potential risk of death," they conclude in Respiratory Medicine.
Licensed from medwireNews with permission from Springer...
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What causes asthma?
The exact cause of asthma isn't known. It's possible that a combination of genetics and environmental exposures interact to cause asthma to develop, most often early in life. Risk factors for developing asthma include:
  • Atopy, an inherited tendency to develop allergies
  • Certain respiratory infections during childhood
  • Contact with airborne allergens
  • Exposure to viral infections
  • Parents who have asthma
  • An asthma attack occurs when asthma symptoms become worse than usual.

For more on the causes of asthma, read here.

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What is asthma?
Asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening respiratory disease that affects the lungs and the quality of life for millions of Americans.  Asthma affects people of all ages, but frequently begins in childhood. More than 22 million Americans are known to have asthma; 6 million people diagnosed with asthma are children.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that affects the airways, or tubes, that carry air in and out of your lungs.  Particularly, asthma affects the inside walls of your airways and they become sore and swollen. As the airways swell, they may react strongly to things that you are allergic to or find irritating. When your airways react, they get narrow and your lungs get less air causing repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and night or early morning coughing.
For more about asthma, read here.
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