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Asthma explained

The National Institutes of Health reports that more than 25 million people in the U.S. are living with asthma. This condition impacts the ability to breath, and in severe cases may limit the patient's ability to work. An asthma diagnosis may qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits, if the disorder prevents you from earning an income.

The airways that carry air in and out of the lungs are inflamed in people with asthma. Not only does this constrict the airways, it often makes them sensitive to certain substances when the person inhales them. Common triggers include dust, animal fur, mold, cigarette smoke and certain medicines.

The resulting reaction causes the muscles around the airways to tighten, narrowing the airways further and making it more difficult to draw air into the lungs. Sometimes, the swelling in the airways also increases, making breathing even more difficult. Finally, the airways may produce more mucus than usual.

An intense or multi-symptom period is called an asthma attack. With medicine, attacks can be treated before they become severe. However, there is no cure for asthma.

Signs you might have asthma include:

  • A chronic cough that is worse at night or early in the morning, interfering with sleep
  • Wheezing, or a whistling or squeaking sound when you breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath, like you cannot catch your breath, or feel like you can't get air out of your lungs.

Asthma can develop as the result of exposure to certain substances at work. Sometimes, the condition becomes so severe that the patient must stop working. As we said above, SSD benefits may help make up for the lost income.

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