Breathing Easier for World Asthma Day

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We’re psyched to announce some important study results today, on World Asthma Day, because this is something that could really change the future of asthma diagnoses.

Asthma has always been difficult to diagnose. Parents often *suspect* their child has asthma but then they’re told it’s not asthma, or to take a wait-and-see approach. The road to an official asthma diagnosis isn’t always easy, even though a staggering 25 million Americans have the chronic inflammatory lung disease.

But researchers at Penn State College of Medicine have determined that people with asthma have very specific molecules in their blood, which means the first diagnostic blood test for asthma – and more targeted treatments – could be here within five years.

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THIS. IS. SUCH. GOOD. NEWS. A simple blood test could confirm if a person has asthma, and perhaps even narrow down if they suffer from allergic asthma (triggered by inhaling allergens) or non-allergic asthma (often adult-onset and related to sinus or stomach issues). You’d even have the results during the very same appointment.

These magical molecules help regulate gene expression and they’re called microRNAs (miRNAs). No one thought they meant much before, but now scientists are using them to diagnose different diseases – and it looks like they may play an important role in inflammation and immune responses. With this new information about asthma-related miRNAs, researchers can possibly develop drugs to target these faulty molecules.

Of course, this breakthrough comes after several weeks of confusing news in the asthma community, like numerous stories about how many people diagnosed with asthma actually don’t have it. But wait, we don’t want to blow the over-diagnosis out of proportion, do we? And what’s this about everybody overusing their inhalers?

Throw in some panic about asthma symptoms + global warning, sharing flights with furry little triggers, and if your child with asthma is getting enough exercise (not to mention enough Vitamin D and dust/dander exposure at a young age) and you’ve got a perfect storm of A+ Asthma Anxiety Aughhhh.

But not today, because today is World Asthma Day.

Today is all about focusing on the good news about a better way to diagnose asthma and targeted treatments. Today is about celebrating the people who are researching asthma (and making that research possible), and retelling the stories of advocating for our children and sharing an inhaler to help a friend in distress to save a life (even if it’s not allowed). 

Heather Laura Clarke, a contributing writer at Scratch or Sniff, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her high-school sweetheart husband, seven-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter. She writes for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S., and blogs about her family life at Heather's Handmade Life. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

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