HeadWise HeadWise: Volume 6, Issue 2 - Page 18

A ccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17.7 million adults (age 18 and over) in the United States currently have asthma. That is 7.4% of the adult population. And, 6.3 million children (under age 18) in the U.S. have asthma – 8.6% of the children in this country. It is, therefore, logical to assume that many of those individuals also experience migraine. What is asthma? Simply, it is a disease that affects the lungs. Your airways narrow and swell, and produce extra mucus. Breathing will then become difficult. The symp- toms include wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Coughing at night or during the early morning is a common complaint. The individual with asthma may experience difficulty sleeping because of shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing. Similar to migraine, you may not always have the symp- toms. But when an asthmatic attack occurs, it is because something triggered a response in your lungs. For some patients with asthma, its symptoms are only a minor nui- sance. For others, asthma may be greatly impacting their daily lives and can also place them in a life-threatening situation. What Causes or Triggers Asthma? Asthma triggers vary from person to person. Some people react to only a few while others react to many of these triggers. For migraine patients, they are asked to keep a headache diary to identify patterns and/or triggers of the headache episodes. Similarly, if you have asthma, it 18 HeadW ise ® | Volume 6, Issue 2 • 2016 is important to keep track of the causes or triggers that you know provoke an asthma attack. It may require ad- ditional vigilance, as the asthma symptoms do not always occur right after exposure to the trigger. Delayed asthma episodes may occur depending on the type of trigger and how sensitive a person is to that provocateur. Table 1 lists the common triggers of an asthma attack.