If you're among the 27 million North Americans with asthma, chances are it's triggered by allergies to airborne irritants in your environment (a whopping 75 percent of adults with sensitive airways have allergic asthma). Unfortunately, only 25 percent of people with asthma know what they're allergic to and how to avoid the triggers that make their airways constrict, swell and clog up with mucus. That may be why more than half of all PWA (people with asthma) have at least one asthma attack each year -- and why that scary "I can't breathe" feeling sends a half-million folks to the emergency room annually (and, we hate to add, needlessly kills thousands).
Clearly, if you have allergic asthma, identifying and avoiding your triggers -- and setting up a smart asthma treatment plan -- could be a lifesaver.
The allergens that are the most common wheezemakers include pollen (especially grass pollen), dust mites, mold, household pests like cockroaches and pets of all kinds. So you want to get hip to the asthma triggers and start hunting for your hazards.
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Children with asthma should play hard in gym class and stop worrying they might have an attack that could leave them struggling to breathe, respiratory specialists are now recommending.
Physical activity by people with asthma isn’t harmful and might even be helpful to treating the condition, doctors in the field believe. A report published last year in the Cochrane Database Systems Review, a journal that reviews health-care treatments and decision making, looked at 19 previous studies of exercise and asthma and concluded that people with the respiratory condition fared well with physical activity. The studies’ results ranged from showing no difference in patients’ asthma control to an increase in the number of symptom-free days and a decrease in asthma severity.
Laboratory studies on animals with asthma also have shown that exercise appears to reduce the severity and frequency of attacks, says Timothy Craig, an immunologist and allergist at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa. The experiments with mice found that exercise calms the activity of inflammatory proteins and peptides in airways that, when stimulated, cause an attack, he says.
“If you have good, controlled asthma, you should be able to exercise,” Dr. Craig says.
Fear of physical activity is real for many asthma patients. Exercise can spur an attack, in which the airways get inflamed and lung muscles contract, making it hard for people to catch their breath. If untreated, serious cases can lead to death.
Continue reading this article on WSJ.
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Spirometry, the most common type of pulmonary function test (PFT), is used to evaluate worker respiratory health in medical surveillance programs and to screen workers for their ability to perform certain tasks. Spirometry results can play a central role in decisions about worker job assignments and personal protective equipment, and in the assessment of exposure-related health effects.
To read the entire publication, visit OSHA's publication here.
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Newcastle researchers say they have found a link between asthma and oestrogen in young obese women.
The Hunter Medical Research Institute's Hayley Scott says oestrogen stimulates leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger, but also promotes airway inflammation.
A study of 130 people found younger females tended to show a more hormone-related pattern of airway inflammation that is associated with higher levels of oestrogen.
Dr Scott says obesity is known to be a major risk factor for asthma but the relationship is not well understood.
"There is potential to modulate sex hormone levels in obese young women with asthma for improved management of their respiratory condition," she said.
"Neutrophilia (a form of airway inflammation) doesn't respond well to frontline asthma treatment with inhalers."
The findings were presented in Darwin at the annual scientific meeting of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.
Link to online findings here.
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Study finds up to 75 percent of asthmatic adults have an allergy


More than 25 million American children, adolescents and adults currently have a diagnosis of asthma.  
Previously it was thought that underlying allergies were only prevalent in children with allergies. In fact, almost 80 percent of children with asthma have underlying allergies, so perhaps that was not necessarily the case with adults with asthma. 
However, a new study published in this month’s Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found that about 75 percent of asthma sufferers aged 20 to 40 years old and 65 percent of asthmatic adults aged 55 years and older, have at least one confirmed allergy.
The older asthmatic adults studied were found to be sensitive to indoor house dust mites (36 percent), followed by grass pollen (33 percent), cats (27 percent), dog (24 percent), and cockroaches (11 percent). 
The allergic sensitivities in those asthmatics studied in the 20-to 40-year-old groups were different: These younger patients were found to be sensitive to dogs (50 percent) and house dust mites (45 percent).
The medical community has long understood the relationship between having allergies and the risk of developing asthma especially in the younger population.  However, asthma is often not well diagnosed in older adults, and so many go untreated or under-treated. 
A misdiagnosis of asthma in an older adults leaves the potential for various associated health consequences.  Without optimal diagnosis and treatment, a potential increase in life-threatening asthma symptoms may be observed particularly in older adults, where other conditions are more prevalent, such as underlying heart diseases.
This study underscores the importance of looking at allergic triggers in older and younger individuals, as well as looking at genetic history and environmental modification in evaluating and treating asthmatic individuals.  
Testing for possible allergies and subsequent counseling regarding environmental allergy exposures need to be strongly considered in older patients with asthma.
For a long time it was considered that older patients with asthma were more likely to be characterized as being “non-allergic.” It appears from this review and others, there is increasing evidence of older individuals with asthma who are more likely to have underlying allergies. 
The take-home message from this study shows an even higher number of older adults with...
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Chronic Asthma May Be Caused by Traffic Pollution


Fourteen percent of chronic childhood asthma could be due to exposure to traffic pollution, a study of 10 European cities has found.
The new study suggests that air quality can trigger the breathing disorder as much as being around someone else who is smoking, which the World Health Organization has linked to 4 to 18 percent of asthma cases.
Asthma sufferers often flag pollution as a trigger for their symptoms. A recent survey from Asthma UK found that 66 percent of sufferers said that traffic pollution makes their asthma worse, WebMD reported. Twenty-nine percent of responders said that reducing air pollution was the top factor that would make their lives better, and 85 percent said they were worried about car pollution's effect on their and their family's health.
"Air pollution has previously been seen to trigger symptoms but this is the first time we have estimated the percentage of cases that might not have occurred if Europeans had not been exposed to road traffic pollution," lead author Dr. Laura Perez, at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, said in a press release. "In light of all the existing epidemiological studies showing that road-traffic contributes to the onset of the disease in children, we must consider these results to improve policy making and urban planning."
Researchers looked at population-attributable factors to see how near-road traffic pollution affected patients. The calculation showed how changing pollution levels might lower disease levels or reduce risk for death.
They discovered that when children were near high levels of near-road traffic pollution they had much higher rates of asthma, even when other factors like passive (or secondhand) smoking or socioeconomic factors were accounted for. They estimated that 33,200 cases -- or 14 percent -- of chronic asthma suffers in those 10 cities were exposed to roads with high vehicle traffic, causing their asthma, and 15 percent of all asthma sufferer's episodes were due to near-road traffic conditions if a causal relationship was assumed.
"This latest study adds to the weight of evidence to suggest that traffic pollution is a cause of asthma rather than just a trigger," Emily Humphreys, head of policy and public affairs at Asthma UK, told WebMD. She was not involved in the research.
Asthma affects one in 12 people, or 8 percent of the U.S. population, according to 2009 data from the Centers...
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Asthma is now said to affect nearly 25 million people in the U.S. alone (that's one in eight individuals), 300 million worldwide. It continues to increase annually. An estimated $48.6 billion are spent in medical bills, $6 billion in prescription drugs, and who knows how much in alternative treatments - practitioner-based or supplement-based. It has increased by 48 percent in the past 10 years, according to the American Lung Association August 2012 statistics.

There are many causes of asthma, and many more triggers. It is important to differentiate between the two terms related to asthma. "Causes" refers to the underlying mechanism, or mechanisms that set the stage for someone to have asthma, whereas, "triggers" refers to the event or exposure that can set off an asthma attack.
To read the entire article, click here.
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The sudden onset of an asthma attack can be a frightening event. Asthmatics often experience a severe shortness of breath combined with coughing or wheezing and a tightening sensation in their lungs and chest. If you suffer from asthma, there is a chronic state of inflammation in your lungs. When this inflammation is paired with constriction of the airwaves and muscles in the chest, it is important to seek immediate relief, either via a bronchodilator or emergency medical care.
When your body experiences one form of inflammation or another, it is typically in response to something your body regards or perceives as foreign or harmful. With sufferers of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the inflammation may appear for seemingly no reason and last for far too long. These unexpected occurrences can be harmful.
Additionally, airway constriction, also known as bronchoconstriction, may accompany an onset of inflammation. The combination of bronchoconstriction with an onset of inflammation can further limit your airway function making it just that much harder to breathe.
It is bronchoconstriction (and how to mitigate it) that researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) have been researching lately. And their findings may be both surprising and welcome among the asthma and COPD communities.
The new study, focusing on the effects of bitter foods on our physiology, was conducted by an interdisciplinary team of scientists from UMMS and was published this week in the open access journal PLOS Biology. The team claims their research represents an important step forward in gaining an understanding of how certain substances that are responsible for making some foods bitter in taste can also play a part in helping to reverse the contraction of airway cells. The reversal of bronchoconstriction is known as bronchodilation.
For the rest of the article, click here.
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