How The History Of Asthma Can Help Us Treat It
History of asthma and other breathing disorders shows that they have increased dramatically from when they were first taken seriously in the early part of the last century. What is most worrying of all is that the numbers of people suffering from asthma continue to rise at an ever faster rate despite the best efforts of researchers in the medical profession to combat them. History is showing us that there is something seriously wrong, but can we identify it and do we have what it takes to put it right?
The distant history of this puzzling ailment can teach us little, as it was often not taken seriously or given the physical causes which it must undoubtedly have. So many doctors of the past were convinced that such a breathing difficulty was caused by psychological factors, and that talking therapy was the way to treat it. While stress and mental anxiety may make the condition worse, and may even bring on an attack in an existing sufferer, there is no doubt that they are not a plausible first cause for the condition. It was a long time before medical science began to realize that here was a serious life threatening condition which must have genuine physical causes.
The advance in the illness has now completely overwhelmed those who are trying to find a cure for it. In the Western world, numbers of sufferers are reaching epidemic proportions. We are nowhere nearer finding a cure or a solution, nor even managing to identify exactly what causes the condition in the first place. What has happened, though, is that a lot of research has been done into statistics, and into the numbers of people who are affected by different potential trigger factors. This has allowed scientists to put together a list of probabilities, which can be used to base potential treatments on.
The history of asthma is now long enough for several clear patterns to have emerged. The fact that all developed Western countries have far higher incidences of asthma suggests very strongly that there is something in the altered environment of a Western nation which is causing the problem. The dramatic increase in numbers over the past three decades suggests that technological advances are somehow having an undesired effect on a significant percentage of the population. This is scarcely surprising when you think of the excesses of pollutants which are created from the way we live today.
Some of the known negative effects of industrialization in the Western world are known to have increased dramatically at the same time as asthma rates. The most obvious of these is pollution from road traffic, which has increased in a perfect match with the increasing asthma figures. The air in major cities is highly polluted, and even air in rural areas is considerably affected. This is not necessarily indicative of a clear cause and effect relationship, but it is highly likely that there is a connection between the two. The fact that asthma rates are higher in the more polluted cities would also suggest this.
The recent history of asthma suggests strongly that giving children a more natural environment in which to grow up would be an exceedingly good idea. Pollutants in air, food and water are obviously at the least a contributory factor to the current crisis, and the statistics provide further revelations as well. Exposure to animal allergens at a very early age actually reduces the risk of asthma in childhood. This supports the view that sheltering children too much from nature is actually counterproductive, a view which is borne out by the history of asthma.