Thinking Citizen Blog — Asthma — a Little History, Current Toll, Metaphor
Thinking Citizen Blog — Thursday is Health, Health Care, and Global Health Policy Day
Today’s Topic: Asthma — a Little History, Current Toll, Metaphor
There is no cure for asthma, but there is treatment. Today, a few, somewhat random notes. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
HISTORY: from the Greek for “panting” derived from the Sanskrit word for “wind”
1. Epinephrine was first used as a treatment in 1905.
2. “Oral corticosteroids began to be used for this condition in the 1950s while inhaled corticosteroids and selective short acting beta agonist came into wide use in the 1960s.”
3. “During the 1930s to 1950s, asthma was known as one of the “holy seven” psychosomatic diseases. Its cause was considered to be psychological, with treatment often based on psychoanalysis and other talking cures… these psychoanalysts interpreted the asthmatic wheeze as the suppressed cry of the child for its mother, they considered the treatment of depression to be especially important for individuals with asthma.”
NB: Most famous American asthmatic: Teddy Roosevelt (1858–1919). “Roosevelt’s youth was in large part shaped by his poor health partly related to his asthma. He experienced recurring nighttime asthma attacks that caused the experience of being smothered to death, terrifying the boy and his parents.”
ASTHMA PREVALENCE AND TOLL — US, Global (Chart below is of deaths per million, darker is higher death rate)
1. US: 26 million asthma sufferers, about 1.6 million emergency room visits per year. Deaths: about 4,000 per year.
2. Global: 262 million, about 400,000 deaths per year.
3. US: 61% of US asthma deaths were women. The asthma death rate is 2.8X higher among blacks than whites.
NB: In the US, asthma ranks second among the causes of hospitalizations among children. The first is “injury and poisonings.”
THE ASTHMA METAPHOR — are you ready for the next prejudice attack?
1. Asthmatics need three things: an understanding of triggers, an action plan, and, sometimes daily controllers.
2. Details matter. Meds are often administered with inhalers, but to be used efficiently, they usually need “spacers.” (See image above)
3. Are you prepared for your next prejudice attack? Do you have an understanding of what your triggers are? Do you have an action plan? Do you have an inhaler? A spacer?
For the last four years of posts organized by theme:
Please share the most interesting thing you learned in the last week related to health, health care or health care policy — the ethics, economics, politics, history…. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to health are or health care policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random health-related fact that blew you away.
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something really important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that matters.