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Asthma Not Just a Childhood Disease

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute estimates that of nearly 20 million asthma sufferers in the United States, 15 million are adults. That should be a clear reminder that asthma is not just a childhood disease.

Asthma affects many adults and can even begin in adulthood and asthma is increasing in both incidence and severity.

A chronic lung disease that results in shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightening, asthma can be caused by exercise, allergens, irritants such as cigarette smoke and air pollution, and viral infections. The American Lung Association says that in 2003, asthma accounted for an estimated 24.5 million lost work days and keeping healthy through proper diagnosis and management of this disease is extremely important.

Lung function declines faster in those with asthma compared with non-asthma sufferers. Asthma isn't curable, but there are many good treatments and lifestyle changes that make it controllable. If you think you may have asthma, it's important to see a doctor right away.

In addition to a doctor visit, here are a few other things to keep your lungs healthy.

It may also be helpful to keep track of your asthma in a diary or on a calendar. Information about the frequency or severity of your asthma symptoms can help you better identify asthma triggers.

This article originally appeared in UC Health Line (4/11/06), a service of the NetWellness.org Academic Health Center Public Relations Communications Department and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2006.

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Last Reviewed: Jul 21, 2008

Formerly, Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati