Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ASTHMA - the gender issue

I read this article in The Star 7 Sept 2008, entitled "Gender in Asthma". Thought of sharing with others who did not have the chance to read it from the newspaper. Well, first and foremost it says that currently about 20 million people in the US have asthma, and it cuts a path across gender lines. During childhood, asthma is found to be more prevalent and more severe among males.

But after puberty, the opposite is true: There is more occurence in female, and women face the higher risk of severe cases. For many boys, in fact, asthma symptoms taper off as they reached puberty, while for girls that’s often when the problems (asthmatic attacks) first emerge.

Nobody has determined why this flip-flop exists, but intriguing theories circulate. A study published recently in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine touches on some of them.

One school of thought: Changing levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen make women more susceptible to attacks, while rising levels of testosterone among boys exert a protective effect.

A second: Anatomical differences drive the disparity. Women, for example, are known to develop smaller airways in proportion to a given lung volume than males do.

A third: Exposure levels to outdoor environmental triggers have an influence on the shift.

Boys who start to feel better after being on asthma medication for years can now be more comfortable about getting off their medications. – US News and World Report / Premium Health News Services.

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