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Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which airways may be inflamed and airway linings become swollen. The airways produce a thick mucus. As the airways narrow, breathing becomes more difficult. The muscles around the airways can also tighten and make the airways narrower. These changes in the airway block the flow of air, making it hard to breathe. This narrowing sometimes gets better by itself, but often requires treatment.
Asthma is unlikely to be a single disease, so we should abolish the term altogether, states an editorial in The Lancet, 27 Aug 2006. People with asthma can have a range of different triggers, symptoms, and responses to treatment, and the general consensus now emerging is that asthma is unlikely to be a single disease entity.
Please see the link between Asthma and Particulate Avoidance for the importance of having a clean environment, once asthma becomes a problem. But, exposure to an unclean atmosphere growing up, may reduce the risk of developing asthma.
Although it's not proven, the relatively quick disappearance of H. pylori from our systems is consistent with the idea that widespread antibiotic use is changing human microbiology, which has a consequence, said Dr. Blaser. Other factors in the decline of H. pylori include improvements in childhood living conditions and smaller family size.
"Many studies show that early childhood use of antibiotics is associated with an increased risk of asthma," said Dr. Chen.
In this study, more than one in 10 children under the age of 10 (11 percent) had taken antibiotics in the prior month. Prior studies have shown that by 15, the average child has received three or four courses of antibiotics just for ear infections. "That translates on an annual basis to an extremely high rate of antibiotic use in childhood," she said.
"Sure, your child's ears may seem a little better after antibiotic treatment for an ear infection, but an increased risk for asthma may be one of the costs," said Dr. Blaser, who is the immediate past president of the IDSA.
May 2012. NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Amish children raised on rural farms in northern Indiana suffer from asthma and allergies less often even than Swiss farm kids, a group known to be relatively free from allergies, according to a new study.
"The rates are very, very low," said Dr. Mark Holbreich, the study's lead author. "So there's something that we feel is even more protective in the Amish" than in European farming communities.
Researchers have long observed the so-called "farm effect" -- the low allergy and asthma rates found among kids raised on farms -- in central Europe, but less is known about the influence of growing up on North American farms. Holbreich, an allergist in Indianapolis, has been treating Amish communities in Indiana for two decades, but he noticed that very few Amish actually had any allergies.
Amish families, who can trace their roots back to Switzerland, typically farm using methods from the 1800s and they don't own cars or televisions. The researchers surveyed 157 Amish families, about 3,000 Swiss farming families, and close to 11,000 Swiss families who did not live on a farm -- all with children between the ages of six and 12.
They found that just five percent of Amish kids had been diagnosed with asthma, compared to 6.8 percent of Swiss farm kids and 11.2 percent of the other Swiss children. Similarly, among 138 Amish kids given a skin-prick test to determine whether they were predisposed to having allergies, only 10 kids -- or seven percent -- had a positive response.
In comparison, 25 percent of the farm-raised Swiss kids and 44 percent of the other Swiss children had a positive test, the researchers report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The study did not determine why the kids who grew up on farms were less likely to develop asthma and allergies, but other research has pointed to exposure to microbes and contact with cows, in particular, to partially explain the farm effect (see Reuters Health story of May 2, 2012).
Drinking raw cow's milk also seems to be involved, Holbreich said.
The going theory is this early exposure to the diverse potential allergens and pathogens on a farm trains the immune system to recognize them, but not overreact to the harmless ones. As for why the Amish kids have even lower allergy and asthma rates than the other farming kids, "that piece of the puzzle we really haven't explained," Holbreich told Reuters Health. He speculated that it could be at least partly a result of the Amish having larger families or spending even more time outside or in barns than people on more modern working farms.
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Acute: An illness or symptom of sudden onset, which generally has a short duration.
Allergen: A substance that is capable of producing an allergic response in the body.
Allergic Rhinitis: Also known as hay fever, this is an inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes that is caused by specific allergen(s). It is an allergy characterized by sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, a runny or stuffy nose, coughing and a burning/scratchy sensation of the palate and throat.
Allergy: Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.
Antioxidant: A chemical compound that slows or prevents oxygen from reacting with other compounds. Some antioxidants have been shown to have cancer-protecting potential because they neutralize free radicals. Examples include vitamins C and E, alpha lipoic acid, beta carotene, the minerals selenium, zinc, and germanium, superoxide dismutase (SOD), coenzyme Q10, catalase, and some amino acids, like cystiene. Other nutrient sources include grape seed extract, curcumin, gingko, green tea, olive leaf, policosanol and pycnogenol.
Asthma: A lung disorder marked by attacks of breathing difficulty, wheezing, coughing, and thick mucus coming from the lungs. The episodes may be triggered by breathing foreign substances (allergens) or pollutants, infection, vigorous exercise, or emotional stress.
Atopic: Genetically predisposed toward developing immediate hypersensitivity reactions to common environmental allergens.
Bronchitis: Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the bronchial tubes, frequently accompanied by cough, hypersecretion of mucus, and expectoration of sputum. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by an infectious agent and of short duration. Chronic bronchitis, generally the result of smoking, may also be known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or Emphysema.
Bruxism: Prolonged, unintentional grinding and clenching of the teeth, usually occurring during sleep. 'Bruxers' are often unaware that they have developed this habit. Symptoms include abraded/chipped teeth (in extreme cases, waking up with tooth chips in the mouth); facial pain; oversensitive teeth; tense facial and jaw muscles; headaches; dislocation of the jaw; damage to the tooth enamel, exposing the inside of the tooth; a popping or clicking in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ); tongue indentations; damage to the inside of the cheek.
Chronic: Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.
Cofactor: A substance that acts with another substance to bring about certain effects, often a coenzyme.
Dermatitis: A general term used to refer to eruptions or rashes on the skin.
Dyspnea: Difficult breathing.
Eczema: Swelling of the outer skin of unknown cause. In the early stage it may be itchy, red, have small blisters, and be swollen, and weeping. Later it becomes crusted, scaly, and thickened.
Edema: Abnormal accumulation of fluids within tissues resulting in swelling.
Eosinophil: The eosinophils, ordinarily about 2% of the granulocyte count (60 to 75% of the white blood cells), increase in number in the presence of allergic disorders and parasitic infestations.
Epidemic: Describes a disease occurring in extensive outbreaks, or with an unusually high incidence at certain times and places.
Free Radical: A free radical is an atom or group of atoms that has at least one unpaired electron. Because another element can easily pick up this free electron and cause a chemical reaction, these free radicals can effect dramatic and destructive changes in the body. Free radicals are activated in heated and rancid oils and by radiation in the atmosphere, among other things.
Helicobacter Pylori: H. pylori is a bacterium that is found in the stomach which, along with acid secretion, damages stomach and duodenal tissue, causing inflammation and peptic ulcers. Although most people will never have symptoms or problems related to the infection, they may include: dull, 'gnawing' pain which may occur 2-3 hours after a meal, come and go for several days or weeks, occur in the middle of the night when the stomach is empty and be relieved by eating; loss of weight; loss of appetite; bloating; burping; nausea; vomiting.
Immune System: A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation.
Magnesium: An essential mineral. The chief function of magnesium is to activate certain enzymes, especially those related to carbohydrate metabolism. Another role is to maintain the electrical potential across nerve and muscle membranes. It is essential for proper heartbeat and nerve transmission. Magnesium controls many cellular functions. It is involved in protein formation, DNA production and function and in the storage and release of energy in ATP. Magnesium is closely related to calcium and phosphorus in body function. The average adult body contains approximately one ounce of magnesium. It is the fifth mineral in abundance within the body--behind calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Although about 70 percent of the body's magnesium is contained in the teeth and bones, its most important functions are carried out by the remainder which is present in the cells of the soft tissues and in the fluid surrounding those cells.
Metabolism: The chemical processes of living cells in which energy is produced in order to replace and repair tissues and maintain a healthy body. Responsible for the production of energy, biosynthesis of important substances, and degradation of various compounds.
Neurotransmitters: Chemicals in the brain that aid in the transmission of nerve impulses. Various Neurotransmitters are responsible for different functions including controlling mood and muscle movement and inhibiting or causing the sensation of pain.
Pulmonary: Pertaining to the lungs.
Pyridoxine: (Vitamin B-6): A B-complex vitamin that plays a role as a coenzyme in the breakdown and utilization of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It facilitates the release of glycogen for energy from the liver and muscles. It also participates in the utilization of energy in the brain and nervous tissue and is essential for the regulation of the central nervous system.
Rhinitis: Inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane.
ROS: Reactive Oxygen Species. Molecules including free radicals and other oxygen species.
Selenium: An essential element involved primarily in enzymes that are antioxidants. Three selenium- containing enzymes are antioxidant peroxidases and a fourth selenium-containing enzyme is involved in thyroid hormone production. The prostate contains a selenium-containing protein and semen contains relatively large amounts of selenium. Clinical studies show that selenium is important in lowering the risk of several types of cancers. In combination with Vitamin E, selenium aids the production of antibodies and helps maintain a healthy heart. It also aids in the function of the pancreas, provides elasticity to tissues and helps cells defend themselves against damage from oxidation.
Serotonin: A phenolic amine neurotransmitter (C10H12N2O) that is a powerful vasoconstrictor and is found especially in the brain, blood serum and gastric membranes of mammals. Considered essential for relaxation, sleep, and concentration.
Tryptophan: Essential amino acid. Natural relaxant and sleep aid due to its precursor role in serotonin (a neurotransmitter) synthesis. Along with tyrosine, it is used in the treatment of addictions.
Vitamin B6: Influences many body functions including regulating blood glucose levels, manufacturing hemoglobin and aiding the utilization of protein, carbohydrates and fats. It also aids in the function of the nervous system.
Yeast: A single-cell organism that may cause infection in the mouth, vagina, gastrointestinal tract, and any or all bodily parts. Common yeast infections include candidiasis and thrush.