I am asthmatic
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the bronchi that results in shortness of breath that can be life-threatening. In France, acute asthma attacks are responsible for 1,500 to 2,000 deaths each year. Yet treatments exist that, if taken with regularity and care, prevent these crises and allow people with asthma to lead a normal life.
Asthma, what is it?
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the bronchi that is manifested by shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and sometimes permanent respiratory discomfort. These breathing problems may stop spontaneously or through treatment.
In an asthmatic person, the bronchi are abnormally sensitive to certain factors such as exercise, cold, cigarette smoke or exposure to allergic reaction substances (allergens). This greater sensitivity ("hyper-reactivity") of the bronchi is the consequence of their permanent inflammation. When inflamed bronchi are attacked (by allergens, smoke, cold, dry air, pollution, etc.), they react by contracting and producing mucus. This reaction hinders the passage of air into the bronchi: it is the asthma attack.
Diagram of the respiratory system
Who is affected by asthma?
In France, the current frequency of asthma varies with age. Asthma affects 6-9% of children in primary school, 15% of 13-14 year olds, 5% of adults. Seven to 10% of people report having had asthma in their lifetime. This percentage makes asthma one of the most common chronic diseases in France. Nevertheless, in general, in children as in adults, asthma is often underdiagnosed.
Globally, the proportion of asthmatics in the population is estimated at about 5% of adults and 10% of children, or 200 million people with asthma on our planet.
All countries are concerned. The incidence of the disease is increasing in all countries, like that of allergy, with higher growth in the industrialized countries where the number of asthmatics has doubled in the last fifteen years.
Several reasons are advanced to explain this progression of asthma: the change in lifestyle, pollution (domestic, atmospheric and industrial), smoking, infectious agents (including viruses), the increase in the number of animals and the emergence of better insulated and less ventilated housing that promotes moisture and dust mite exposure.