The acting world suffered a great tragedy recently when one of its younger actress, Laurel Griggs, passed away due to complications stemming from a massive asthma attack. She had been fighting asthma for two years when an attack sent her to the hospital where she later passed away.
The 13-year-old had committed herself to her craft, wowing audiences with her performances on Broadway, expanding her career to TV and film, and even showcasing her talents on Saturday Night Live. Her bright career was only coming into fruition when her asthma attack happened, now leaving behind devastated family members, friends, and fans of her work.
As parents here at the allergy department of the Glatz Group, our hearts go out to the Griggs family for their loss. Today, we want to take the time to honor Laurel’s memory by using our platform to bring awareness of this disease. Asthma is a prevalent and dangerous disease that sends over 2 million people to emergency rooms across America every year. Your McAllen ENT Doctor, Dr. Frank R. Glatz, and his allergy team have extensive knowledge of how asthma begins, how it can affect you, and how we can help you.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a long-term respiratory disease that affects over 25 million Americans every year. Sometimes called a chronic respiratory disease by doctors or “bronchial asthma” by others, this disease causes your airway to become narrow due to a trigger of some sort, impairing a person’s ability to breathe efficiently.
When it occurs, it can cause a bevy of symptoms, include:
- Chest Tightness
- Shortness of Breath
However, more severe cases of an asthma attack can cause symptoms such as:
- Severe Wheezing When Inhaling In and Out
- A Constant Cough
- Chest Pressure or Tightness
- Very Rapid Breathing
- Retractions (i.e. Tightened Neck and Chest Muscles)
- Feeling Anxious/Panicky
- Talking Difficulties
- Clammy, Pale Face
- Blue Lips or Fingertips
Sometimes severe asthma can also worsen despite using medication. Overall, depending on how bad the symptoms are, asthma is ranked by medical professionals into four degrees of severity:
- Mild Intermittent Asthma – Sufferers experience mild symptoms less than twice a week, nighttime symptoms less than twice a month, and may experience few asthma attacks.
- Mild Persistent Asthma – In this degree of severity, sufferers experience mild symptoms between three to six times a week, nighttime symptoms three to four times a month, and have asthma that interferes with certain activities.
- Moderate Persistent Asthma – The same information for mild persistent asthma is also shared with this particular degree of severity yet with many of the symptoms suffered on the higher end of the spectrum.
- Severe Persistent Asthma – Frequent asthma symptoms that occur day and night, and you are limited to do only certain activities/tasks because of their frequency and intensity.
In any case, immediate emergency medical services are required when enduring severe symptoms; however, you should visit our experienced allergy team over at the Glatz Group right away if you begin feeling any of the mild signs and symptoms first to determine if what is causing your asthma is allergy-related and what can be done to help treat it.
What is an Asthma Attack, and What Triggers It?
When asthma symptoms worsen, an asthma attack may occur. Many different scenarios exist that can trigger symptoms that ultimately turn into an asthma attack, such as:
- Adult-Onset Asthma – Sometimes things that didn’t uncover the individual’s asthma earlier in life do now as an adult. Whether it be an allergy or a virus, asthma can happen in adults as well.
- Allergic Asthma – Allergens like pollen, dust, or pet dander can, in some cases, cause asthma in some individuals. That is to say, however, that not all people who have allergies are asthmatic and vice versa.
- Asthma-COPD Overlap – Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a combination of various lung diseases that affect breathing, and when an individual has both asthma and COPD, this overlap can occur.
- Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB) – Asthma symptoms can be triggered in an individual when exercising.
- Nonallergic Asthma – Anything from environmental climate to sickness may trigger nonallergic asthma.
- Occupational Asthma – Airborne irritants at work like dust or chemical fumes can lead to an individual having an asthma attack.
When any of the above triggers asthmatic symptoms in individuals susceptible to them, an asthma attack may happen. During an attack, the airways within your throat are inflamed and begin to swell, also known as a bronchospasm. During the bronchospasm, a thick mucus is produced that further inhibits breathing, turning a frightening situation into a dire one.
If you have asthma and are enduring a severe asthma attack, get medical help immediately. If severe asthma attacks are left untreated, they can ultimately lead to respiratory failure, and then death.
How Our Allergy Team Can Help You
In a recent article published by NBC News, it was discovered that McAllen, Texas is actually the worst city for living with springtime allergies. For all of us living in McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley, this article shows us that there is a need to visit a devoted allergy team to help give you sinus and allergy relief.
Since we here at Glatz Group specialize both in allergies and in airways, seeing us if you are concerned about your asthma symptoms is always a good idea. Here, we can help you develop a plan that can guide your efforts at managing your condition.
From there, we can discuss:
- Identifying if your symptoms are worsening.
- What you should do in case of an emergency.
- How to manage your asthmatic triggers.
- Medicine recommendations.
- Exchanging contact information with our allergy team.
At the Glatz Group, we are a robust, dedicated team of medical professionals that want to ensure that your ear, nose, and throat health is at optimal shape. Should you begin to experience problematic asthma symptoms, Dr. Frank R. Glatz can help you find the relief you need.