The challenge of living with asthma can provoke a lot of fear, discomfort, and even anger within a person. Sometimes when people are diagnosed with this condition they feel as if their own bodies have betrayed them.
It can be depressing – humiliating, even – to experience great difficulty doing things that you used to take for granted, all on account of breathing problems. But there’s a lot about asthma that’s not well understood. For example, it remains a mystery why peoples’ personal triggers for an attack can vary so widely. The gaps in our knowledge of this condition have created room for a lot of myths and distortions to arise, which in turn can generate needless anxiety.
You can alleviate a lot of your own anxiety around asthma if you get informed about your own condition and what it really entails in terms of your daily life. This same truth holds for people who do not suffer from asthma themselves but are close to someone who does and thus feels its impact in their own lives. When it comes to any condition that affects how your body functions, ignorance about the symptoms and causes will inevitably generate fear. Asthma affects people in various ways (and to different degrees of intensity), but all patients have this in common: under certain circumstances, their lungs are irritated in ways that result in a narrowing of their airways (the bronchial tubes), which makes breathing difficult. An asthma attack refers to this moment when the airways in the lungs are narrowed.
There are three factors that cause this to occur. First, the muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes constrict. This can happen in response to various irritants, such as pollen, cold air, vigorous exercise, and air pollution. Asthma sufferers are each susceptible in their own personal ways. Alongside this constriction, the inner walls of the bronchial tubes become inflamed and swollen, which makes the airways even narrower. Finally, the body produces excess mucous within the tubes, which creates blockage and further complications. The combination of these factors can create shortness of breath (many sufferers liken it to trying to breath through a straw), wheezing, coughing, and the difficulties and discomforts associated with excess phlegm in the lungs.
Again, a wide range of things can trigger these reactions, and many asthma patients suffer from symptoms for which doctors can find no trigger. The unknown aspects of this condition have invited a lot of misconceptions about asthma. Many people believe, for example, that its symptoms are all psychological, that moving to a hot and dry climate will cure it, or that all children will eventually grow out of it. The myths surrounding asthma can contribute to your anxiety if you suffer from it. This is why it’s so important to get informed about asthma in general, through books that describe its various symptoms, causes, and treatments, and also learn as much as you can about your own particular case from your physician.
The better you understand your illness, the better you can manage it in an emotionally grounded way. If you live in ignorance about a lot of aspects of your asthmatic condition then your mind may become filled with distorted ideas about what could happen to you. For this same reason, people who live with asthma on a daily basis – with a child, or another person whom they care for – should likewise educate themselves as thoroughly as possible. This will help to separate the misconceptions from the useful information. When you really know what you’re dealing with, it can go a long way towards reducing your overall anxiety about asthma and its symptoms.