Influence of Allergens and Violence on Asthma Symptoms

  • Updated December 24, 2021
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Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by airway constriction, tightening, and increased mucus buildup resulting in chest tightening, wheezing, and coughing. (“BBH 311 Class Notes”). Asthmatics are abnormally hypersensitive to certain substances, and when an asthmatic person ingests a triggering substance, the immune system signals for an unnecessary inflammatory response.

There are many factors that contribute to the severity, including the prevalence of violence in low-income neighborhoods. Studies done on inner city children with asthma show a strong correlation between an exposure to a violent episode and an increase in asthmatic symptoms (Rosalind & Steinbach, 2001). According to a case study (Rosalind, et al.), a low-income patient that suffered greatly from asthma as an infant, started experiencing symptoms again abruptly at the age of 15. It was later revealed that she was attacked on her way to school around the same time the symptoms appeared.

After confronting her attackers and managing her fear, her asthma was completely under control again. Stress activates the HPA axis, which releases hormones like cortisone. During times of chronic or intense stress, the stress hormones can influence cytokines to induce more inflammatory responses. When the teen was experiencing traumatic stress, it was causing her airway to be more inflamed, therefore resulting in the increased wheezing episodes.

Social factors are not the only contributors to worsening asthma symptoms in children, allergens play a large role as well. Common allergens that induce asthma are dust mites, cockroach feces, pollen, mold, and animal dander (BBH 311 Class Notes). When exposed to these allergens, the body has an allergic reaction, which can cause increased nasal and throat inflammation, leading to an increase in wheezing and coughing in asthmatics. Given that children have the highest prevalence of asthma (BBH 311 Class Notes), is is important to recognize their heightened exposure to allergens. Children are more likely to be playing outside and be physically closer to the ground. Both of these factors increase their likelihood of being exposed to asthma inducing allergens like pollen. Exposure to any allergen can be detrimental to the health of a child with asthma.

Both allergens and violence can be extremely influential on asthma symptoms independently, but they also interact to create even worse circumstances for asthmatics. Children that experience violence are more likely to live in a low-income neighborhood. If the child lives in a low income neighborhood, this means that they are more likely to be exposed to allergens and low-quality housing (Pacheco, Ciaccio, & Nazir, et al.). The housing in low-income areas are more likely to have cockroaches, dust buildups, and mold, all of which worsen asthma symptoms.

Moreover, if an asthmatic child is experiencing violence at school, like the case discussed earlier, they are more likely to refuse to leave their home for school. This would lead to an increased exposure of the allergens in the home. Although both of these factors are hard to avoid when living in a low-income area, it is possible to change the condition in one’s home. The patient’s family could purchase new mattresses, use cockroach repellent, and clean the home regularly. Sadly, to make a real influence on either of these factors, the child’s would require a financially stable and supportive family.

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Influence of Allergens and Violence on Asthma Symptoms. (2021, Dec 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/influence-of-allergens-and-violence-on-asthma-symptoms/

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