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     It was three o'clock in the morning and Bailey's parents awoke to the sound of a violent,

barking cough. They raced to his room to see what was happening. They saw him lying in his

bed pale-faced and wheezing between the terrible barking coughs. They knew Bailey had a cold

but this scared them. As they rushed him to the emergency room, Bailey's father wondered what

could have made his little boy so sick? Just hours before, he wiped Bailey's stuffy nose, tucked

him into bed, and read him a story until he nodded off to sleep. Now they were on their way to

the hospital. He never imagined that this terrible scare was caused by asthma.

     "Asthma is a reversible obstructive airway disorder"(Couzens 25). "Asthma comes from

the Greek word panos meaning to pant or breath heavily"(Jensen 4). "Asthma puts a strain on

simple everyday things like breathing"(Couzens 1). Breathing: in with the good air, out with the

bad. For most it's simple. However, for the millions of Americans who have asthma breathing

can often become conscious and labored.

     When trying to diagnose asthma, first a person must choose the right doctor. Many

doctors do not diagnose asthma. They just tell their patients that they are out of shape. When

choosing a doctor, a cardiologist is the best choice to make. This is only for the fact that they

specialize in the pulmonary system and the disease asthma affects this system.

     When a person has asthma they have one of four types. Mild intermittent asthma is

anyone with symptoms that occur less than once a week(Jensen 79). Mild persistent asthma is

anyone who displays symptoms once or twice a week(Jensen 81). Moderate persistent is anyone

who displays symptoms daily(Jensen 82). Severe persistent is the most dangerous. This is when a

person continuously displays symptoms(Jensen 82).

     The disease known as asthma does have certain symptoms and triggers. "An asthma

episode is often characterized by difficulty breathing, prolonged or uncontrollable coughing,

wheezing, a tightening of the chest, and an increased mucus secretion"(Couzens 24). " During an

asthma episode the breathing passages are narrowed in three ways: the muscles surrounding the

bronchial tubes constrict, the lining of the tubes (mucosa) swells much like the area surrounding a

splinter in your finger that has not been properly removed, and there is increased mucus secretion.
In all instances, breathing becomes very difficult"(Couzens 24).

     Triggers are allergens or irritants that trigger asthma symptoms or episodes. "Asthma can

be brought on by such things as smoke, pollen, animal dander, change in temperature, excitement,

or exercise"(Couzens 29). Allergens are such things as foods, food additives, medications, molds,

pollens, latex, and household dust mites(Jensen 29). Another group of triggers is called irritants.

Irritants are such things as perfume, tobacco, household chemicals and combustible

substances(Jensen 26).

     A lot of people think that if a person has asthma that they cannot participate in sports and

other such activities. The fact is that this is not true. There are many world class athletes that

have chosen to battle this disease. In fact, a group of these highly talented athletes, including

Jackie Joyner Kersie, Jerome Bettis, and Amy Van Dyken teamed up with the pharmaceutical

giant Glaxco Wellcome Inc., maker of the asthma medications, and became the "Asthma All-

Stars(HealthAtoZ 2).

     All of these athletes have fought to overcome the obstacle known as asthma. Jackie

Joyner Kersie did not let asthma stand in the way of other Olympic medals. Jerome Bettis was

diagnosed with asthma when he was a kid. But even asthma could not stop Bettis from becoming

one of the best running backs in the National Football League (NFL). Bettis became the twelfth

rusher in NFL history(Tirella 132).
     Athletes are not the only people that are affected by this life threatening disease. "The

National Institute of Health reports that more than one hundred million people world wide have

asthma"(Jensen 1). " Over fourteen million people in the United States have asthma. Of that

number, about one third are under the age of eighteen"(Jensen 1). "Five percent of all adults and

ten percent of all children living in the United States must cope with asthma, a serious, sometimes

life threatening chronic respiratory condition"(Jensen). "Among children, boys more often than

girls have asthma. Asthma tends to run in families that have a history of allergies, hay fever, and

asthma. Most of the athletes interviewed for this book have a positive family history for asthma.

Generally, when diagnosed and treated in infancy, the asthma shows some signs of improvement

by the time the child reaches six years of age. Of the estimated three million children with asthma

it is believed that almost half will use their hyperactive airways- that is overly sensitive bronchial

tubes- as they move into puberty"(Couzens 27)

     Many asthma cases go undiagnosed. A 1998 survey found that many of the two thousand

five hundred and nine patients surveyed were of then uninformed about their asthma(HealthAtoZ

2) "It is believed that many millions more have undetected asthma and therefore go

untreated"(Couzens 26).

     There are many known treatments for asthma but there are no known cures. Asthma is

not curable at this point in time. On the other hand there are many medications and treatments to

help control asthma.

     First of all, to gain control of asthma you must avoid your triggers, take your medication,

monitor your asthma, and work with your doctor to create an asthma action plan(HealthAtoZ 4).

Attitude is another important factor in conquering asthma. "Asthma researchers have found that is

people with asthma feel that they have no control over their conditions, they often will not

respond to the earliest signals until its too late and they are seriously ill"(Couzens xiv). Language

also helps. "Language is a powerful tool and therefore we must be especially mindful of how

asthma is discussed in front of children with asthma. Impressions of the self formed early in life

are often permanent, so by taking a positive approach to asthma, stressing that asthma is

controllable and manageable and that in most cases children with asthma can participate in all

sports, we will be doing the best that we can to ensure that those children will grow up feeling

competent, with a healthy self- image, and able to accomplish whatever their goals might

be"(Couzens xiv).

     "By receiving proper medical attention, athletes are successfully able to exercise, practice,

and compete in their favorite sports. Of course, it took some time to reach the level where they

were able to manage their asthma. Many uncertainties, and fear in some cases, first had to be

overcome as they began to learn about their asthma, what particulars set it off, and when

medication was needed"(Couzens 24-25).

     Medications also help in the fight against asthma. "New asthma medications have been

developed that are very successful in controlling asthma symptoms"(Couzens 126). Some

medications are designed to control both long term and short term symptoms(Jensen136 ). But

there is also bad news. As in all drugs there are side affects. Some medications have serious side

affects such as nausea, or vomiting, confusion, seizures, headaches, or a fluttery heartbeat


     Drugs are not the only way to help fight asthma. People are trying new ways to battle this

disease like chiropractic, herbs, acupuncture, and dietary changes. "Chiropractic involves treating

by manipulating and adjusting the spinal column and other parts of the skeletal and muscle

systems"(Jensen 170). Herbs also help. "Plants have always been thought of as natural cures.

Ancient people concocted remedies from plants long before there were conventional medications.

Traditions from every continent included injecting various herbs for nourishing, cleaning, and

balancing the body and the mind. These traditions have been handed down to the next generation

and in some cases have been confirmed by scientific investigation. Many of today's medicines are

derived from plants"(Jensen 186).

     Other forms of treatment include acupuncture and dietary changes. "According to Chinese

medicine, a universal life force known as chi flows like a river through twelve main pathways, or

meridians, which circulate through the major organs, delivering chi and giving life. As they travel,

they irrigate and nourish the tissues. Good health is defined as a free flow of chi. An imbalance of
chi or a blocked pathway results in ill health, much as a dam backs up a rivers flow"(Jensen 171-


     "Acupuncturists seek to unblock obstructions and correct imbalances of chi in order to

revitalize health. To do this they insert very thin needles at specified points along the meridians.

Pathways may lead them far away from where the infected organ lies, and may place needles in

many spots on the body including the face"(Jensen 172).

     Sometimes even food can trigger asthma. "Using dietary changes is as a treatment option

is a treatment often overlooked in the medical community. Few studies, for instance, have

investigated the advantages of eating one food over another to reduce asthma symptoms. Most

professionals agree, however, that at least some people with asthma may benefit from omitting

certain foods, preservatives, and dyes from their diet that trigger asthma"(Jensen 183).

     In conclusion asthma is a scary, life-threatening disease, but it doesn't have to be. If a

person takes the right precautions and monitors their asthma, it makes their life a lot easier and

much more enjoyable. Even if asthma is not curable, it is controllable, and sometimes even

reversible. Asthma can only get in the way of a persons future if that person lets it. There are

many world-class athletes, who compete on a world-class level, and many of these athletes have a

world recognized disease. They achieved this goal by constant monitoring of their condition and

controlling it. They did not let asthma get in the way of their dreams and goals.

     About Asthma. "Asthma." n.pag. Online-Internet. 8 April 2002 available WWW:

     Asthma in America: Survey news release." Three world class athltes and five national medical organizations launch new national asthma education program." n.pag. Online-Internet. 8 April 2002 available WWW: 99. Htm.

     Couzens, Gerald S., and Hogshead, Nancy. Asthma & Exercise. New York, NY: Henry Hotland Company, 1990.

     Exercise-Induced Asthma-Medfacts-National Jewish Medical and Research Center. "Exercise- Induced Asthma."n.pag. Online-Internet. 8 April 2002 available WWW:

     HealthAtoZ Exclusive. "Winning the Gold with Asthma."n.pag. Online-Internet. 8 April 2002 available WWW:

     Health Resources Publishing. "Athletes and Asthma: What to look for."n.pag. Online-Internet. 8 April 2002 available WWW: htm.

Jensen, Lynn E. Phd. Et. Al. Essential Guide to Asthma. New York, NY: Pocket Books, 1998.

     National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "Asthma."n.pag. Online-Internet. 8 April 2002 available WWW: =NHBI087&cid=HT.
     Show HD Leaflets."What is Asthma."n.pag. Online-Internet. 8 April 2002 available WWW:

Tirella, Joseph V., and Trenowski, Alex. "This Bus Never Stops." People 21Jan. 2002:131-132

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