Thursday, December 30, 2010

Asthma and Bacteria – A Possible Link

Asthma remains a baffling disease that impacts a growing number of individuals, especially children. Asthma is characterized by a constriction and swelling of the airways. The symptoms include the production of mucus and more importantly coughing, wheezing and a shortness of breath. Currently there is no cure for this condition but medications can be used to control it. The severity of this disease varies widely; it can be vary from a nuisance to a life threatening condition.

Recent evidence suggests that there is a strong connection between asthma and the kinds of bacteria that the body ordinarily harbors. Some years ago, Dr. Gary Huffnagle, an immunologist from the University of Michigan, subjected experimental mice to yeast introduced into their intestines; mold spores placed in their noses and an antibiotic drug. These animals began showing signs of asthma and blood tests indicated immune system dysfunction.

In addition, studies have indicated that children raised on farms are much less prone to suffer from diseases of the lung, including asthma, and Dr. William Cookson, a respiratory physician from the Imperial College of London, suggests that exposure to a diverse bacterial environment in childhood may play a protective role. Additionally, children born via the sterile environment of a cesarean section are more prone to suffering from asthma than those that have passed through the birth canal, and children that have had multiple courses of antibiotics are more likely to have asthma than their counterparts.

The relationship between asthma and the bacteria that ordinarily reside within the body is an exceedingly complex one. Yet, it has become clear that children who are stricken by asthma have different bacteria within their bodies and often a less diverse population than non-asthmatic children. The findings of these studies reinforce what has long been suspected regarding asthma,

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