AsthmaAnyone can get asthma, and at any age.It is not contagious, and tends to run in families.In other words, if you have asthma you probably inherited it.There are about 14.6 million asthmatics in the United States and nearly one third of them (4.8 million are children under the age of 18).The proportion of African Americans with asthma was 22.3% higher than whites by 1993.Blacks were also more than four times likely as whites to be hospitalized for asthma.No one knows the reason for the increase in prevalence or for the disparities.
There are a number of surprising facts about children with asthma in the United States.Asthma is the leading serious chronic illness among children.Asthma accounts for 10 million lost school days each year.It is the leading cause of school absentees attributed to chronic conditions.Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among children; it is the number one cause among chronic conditions.The estimated annual cost of treating asthma in those under 18 years of age is $1.9 billion.(1997)
What exactly is asthma and how is it treated?Before one can understand the answer to those questions, one mustfirst know how normal lungs function.Lungs allow oxygen to enter the body in exchange for carbon dioxide.As the oxygen passes into the lungs, the nose and airways trap large particles (dust, pollen, molds, bacteria) and chemicals (smoke, sprays, odors) which could cause serious injury to the lungs.
The air is then transported into millions of smaller airways that carry the oxygen to tiny air sacs called alveoli.These airways have a delicate lining called the mucosa which is coated with a thin layer of mucus, as is in the nose.Foreign particles are trapped by the sticky mucus and are removed from the airways by coughing and/or sneezing.Bundles of muscle…

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