Asthma and Other Health Conditions
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways, making them more sensitive to a host of triggers that can cause them to become inflamed and make you cough, wheeze and experience chest pain. If you regularly grapple with the discomfort of these symptoms, the experts say that you could have increased likelihood of suffering from a number of other conditions, including:
- Heartburn or Reflux
- Other Respiratory Conditions
- Mental illness and/or depression[i]
More than 20 million Americans are diagnosed with asthma, according to the American Academy of Allergies, Asthma and Immunology, and the connection between asthma and allergies has long been recognized.[ii] Many people with asthma also suffer from allergies and these allergies are often what trigger the asthma symptoms.
Heartburn or Reflux
If you have a severe form of asthma, you likely also have heartburn or acid reflux disease, which causes stomach acid to flow back into your esophagus. There seems to be an extremely strong correlation between the symptoms. And even if your asthma isn't that serious, your risk of dealing with the effects of this condition is high. One study estimates that as many as 75 percent of all asthmatics also have reflux. Reflux can make asthma worse, and some doctors speculate that asthma medications can also worsen reflux, further complicating the situation.[iii]
Other Respiratory Conditions
Studies have shown that very young children who experience respiratory illnesses could increase their risk of developing asthma. At the same time, adults with asthma are also at risk for developing other respiratory conditions as they age. Consider the fact that people with asthma have:
- Close to 20 percent higher risk for emphysema
- 12 ppercent higher risk for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (Also called COPD)
- 10 percent higher risk for chronic bronchitis[iv]
Finally, if you have asthma, you are also more likely to have mental illness or depression. While one condition affects the respiratory system and the other is a state of mind, there seems to be a strong link. In fact, a recent study found that people with poor mental health are 30 percent more likely to have asthma than their counterparts.[v] While some public health experts speculate that people with asthma are at risk for depression because of the limitations they may experience due to their symptoms, these latest study findings paint a bit different picture, raising the possibility that people who are already depressed may increase their risk for breathing problems. In fact, researchers found that even having a poor state of mind for just two weeks could increase asthma risk.
What all this means is that if you have asthma, it is important to keep your condition well managed in order to help minimize your increased risk of other health problems. It is also crucial to receive regular medical care and to be screened for a host of related conditions. The experts recommend talking to your doctor about any preventative steps you can take. Also you're your medications as recommended to keep your various health symptoms at bay.
[i] The information comes from the Cleveland Clinic and is included online at http://www.upmc.com/healthAtoZ/Pages/HealthLibrary.aspx?chunkiid=19115.
[ii] American Academy of Allergies, Asthma and Immunology's website at http://www.aaaai.org/patients/gallery/adultasthma.asp.
[iii] From WebMd's website at http://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/heartburn-asthma.
[iv] From WebMd's website at http://www.webmd.com/asthma/news/20040712/asthma-may-raise-risk-copd-emphysema.
[v] Survey of 300,000 Americans with mental health issues. More information can be found at http://www.gotosee.co.uk/healthnews/ailments/asthma/treating-mental-health-asthma/.
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