Asthma In Women
When it comes to women and asthma , the ability to breathe can be affected by pregnancy, the menstrual cycle , and menopause. It is possible for women with asthma and allergies to not be able to breathe fresh air.
Neil Kao MD, an allergist in Greenville, S.C., stated that women who have asthma are faced with an even greater challenge just because they're female.
"Not only are they challenged with balancing known triggers like pollen and mold, but they must also manage the fact that the female hormones in their bodies are constantly changing in ways that might impact how well they can breathe."
Women must manage the effect of female hormones on asthma. They often have to manage their asthma while pregnant. Although managing asthma presents greater difficulties for women than it is for men, it is possible. These are some ways women living with chronic lung diseases like asthma can breathe easier.
Female Hormones and Asthma
Female hormones such as estrogen may have almost as much impact on the airways as allergies and hay fever. The cause of asthma isn't estrogen. It's not the estrogen fluctuation -- which is the change in hormone levels -- that causes inflammation in the airways.
"Fluctuating estrogen levels can activate proteins that produce an inflammatory response, which can bring on asthma symptoms ," says Christiana Dimitropoulou-Catravas, PhD, assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and toxicology at the Medical College of Georgia.
Dimitropoulou-Catravas, who was the lead author on a study investigating the role of estrogen in asthma, explains that by stabilizing estrogen levels, inflammation and asthma may be better controlled.
"With any medication, it's a balance of risk vs. benefit," says Dimitropoulou-Catravas. Replacement therapy with estrogen, which balances the hormones, can increase cardiovascular risk and lead to strokes. If severe asthma is suspected, treatment with estrogen replacement therapy may be possible.
Asthma and Female Milestones, Pregnancy, and Menopause
Many asthma patients are aware of seasonal allergies and triggers that could cause their symptoms. Women with asthma should also be conscious of their cycles. The state of the airways can be affected by changes in hormones. Pregnancy and menopause can affect symptoms of asthma.
Periodic Cycles: The hormone levels of women's menstrual cycles can change significantly, regardless of whether they are regular or not. However, the problem spot may lie just before they start their period, where estrogen levels are low.
"Most hospitalizations for asthma in women occur around the peri-menstrual stage of the menstrual cycle -- right before a woman's period begins," says Maeve O'Connor, MD, an allergist and immunologist in Charlotte, N.C. "This is when estrogen levels drop down to almost zero."
Pregnancy can have an effect on asthma. Kao said that asthmatic pregnant women have three parts. The first 1/3 experience worsening symptoms, the second 1/3 suffer from better asthma symptoms, and the third 1/3 are the same.
No matter what group you are in, there is good news: asthma during pregnancy doesn't increase the likelihood of infant and maternal complications.
Menopause:Menopause causes peaks and valleys in a woman's estrogen levels -- in many cases, more valleys than peaks. To manage asthma symptoms better, it is possible to keep these levels constant while avoiding drastic drops that can trigger inflammation. Talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy and gradual tapering.
Maintaining Asthma Control for women with chronic asthma. It is essential to communicate with your doctor regularly to monitor your ability to breathe. The experts share practical advice on keeping your airways open, no matter what your hormones are doing.
Kao recommends that women who are regular in their periods avoid any known allergens just before they begin.
O'Connor advises women who have irregular periods to be aware of their symptoms. A peak flow meter can be used to determine your capacity to expel air from your lungs. A decrease in your peak flow meter can indicate that you are approaching your period. You should be careful about not triggering any triggers.
Women should always use maintenance medication under the guidance of their physician, and not depend on rescue inhalers. Kao states that it is far better to treat symptoms before they occur than to try and prevent them.
Pregnant women suffering from asthma should take maintenance medication. It is essential. Clifford Bassett MD is the medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York. Many women who are pregnant avoid taking maintenance medication for fear of harming their unborn children. Actually, it is the reverse. "When a pregnant woman has an asthma attack, you aren't getting oxygen, and neither is baby, which can be detrimental to the health of mother and child," says Kao.
Women in their menopause should be aware of signs that could indicate asthma such as wheezing or coughing. Basset says that asthma can occur in women who are going through menopause. He explains, however, that anyone can develop asthma, particularly in women with hormones changing rapidly. Don't ignore your wheezing or coughing no matter what age.
Talk to your doctor if you have asthma symptoms. You may also be eligible for temporary hormone replacement therapy.
Basset states that asthma in women can be a major health problem. Asthma is more prevalent in women than it is among men. A higher number of asthma-related deaths and hospitalizations in women is also common. Also, the number of cases related to asthma has increased in women than in men in recent years, in particular among those aged 20-50.
But the statistics aren’t all that important. Basset says, "We must educate women about asthma treatment." It is possible to succeed when you are able to monitor your condition and have insight into it.