The facts are staggering. 40,000 people, both children and adults, miss school, work or other functions because of asthma. 30,000 have an active attacks. One in four Americans have to deal with this disease. It's most prevalent in cities, particularly inner cities. There are a number of reasons for this, including poverty, pollution and overpopulation.

An asthma attack can cause swelling in the airway, produce a wacking cough and a strong choking sensation. The difficulty in breathing causes (understandably) fear, which can increase the symptom of choking. If it's your first attack, the fear is stronger. Once diagnosed, a prescription rescue inhaler may bring results in a few seconds.

None of us want to deal with asthma. Preventing future attacks should be goal number one, but it will take some time and effort on your part. Depending on the circumstances, a diagnosis could be life altering. Not taking care of it can also be life ending. What can you do?

1) Know your Triggers : Most attacks occur because of a trigger. Most of the time, it's an allergic reaction to something you've been exposed to, either by taste, touch or smell. Emotions can also be triggers. Grief, crying and even laughing can cause reactions. One method of learning your personal triggers is a scratch test. This will give you a great deal of information about what you are allergic to.

2) Beware the Weather : There are some indications that certain types of weather may result in asthma complications. Extremely cold weather is one example. Some people have difficulty in very humid weather, especially if it's hot. Notice when you have problems and take steps to avoid being exposed to it as much as possible. This means you'll have to keep an eye on the weather reports, but it is worth it.

3) Smoke is the Enemy : Before inhalers were invented, doctors would prescribe smoking to those who had this respiratory condition. A puff or two did offer some relief, but it also leads to addiction. A lot of tobacco smoke will have the exact opposite effect. Any type of smoke can do the same thing, whether it's a campfire or a raging brush / forest fire. Listen for smog alerts as well. Exerting yourself when the pollution level is high can lead to an attack.

4) Proper Use of the Peak Flow Meter : Your doctor will show you how to set up your peak flow meter. There will be a range that will indicate you are not developing symptoms, an area where you are probably already having an attack and a level which means go to the emergency room immediately. You'll need to use the meter multiple times a day and write down the results. If you do need to be seen, bring this with you so the doctors can help you figure out a way to have more control over the disease.

You may require preventative medications to control this disease. Talk to your doctor about which are best and what the possible side effects are. If you take any supplements, be sure to mention them to your doctor as well. Some supplements may be triggers for attacks and others may interact with the medications you take.