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Ask Doctor Cory.

Dear Dr. Cory:

Why do people with asthma wheeze? What causes asthma? How come you don't get a fever from asthma, but you do from other sicknesses?

William Mayfield Louisville, Kentucky

Dear William:

The exact cause of asthma is unknown. Genetics and the environment are known to play a part in the cause of asthma. Usually someone who has asthma can name a close family member who has it.

People with asthma don't get fevers because asthma is a condition rather than an illness. Asthma is not contagious. It is not caused by infection with bacteria or a virus, although viral infections can often bring on, or trigger, an asthma attack. Other triggers might include: dust mites, mold, animal dander, cigarette smoke, pollen, and air pollution. Some asthma attacks are triggered by weather changes, stress, or exercise.

During an asthma episode, the airways become irritated and overreact. The muscles in the bronchial tubes (airways) squeeze tight. The tubes become swollen and narrow. They make a lot of mucus. It becomes hard to breathe because the air must fight its way through the narrowed tubes. All of this combines to cause the coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath that comes with asthma.

Dear Dr. Cory:

Why am I wetting the bed? I don't know why I do it. It just happens. When I wake up, I'm wet. Can you help me?

Maria Hampton, Arizona

Dear Maria:

Bedwetting is not uncommon at your age. People with this condition can't control it and should not be punished or teased about it. Most children who have this condition develop nighttime bladder control by the end of puberty.

Probably you are already careful about not drinking liquids just before bedtime and using the bathroom before going to bed. It sounds like you are a sound sleeper. Sleep patterns and genetics seem to contribute to bedwetting. There's a very good chance that someone in your family--such as your mother, father, aunt, or uncle was a bedwetter when he or she was young.

A small percentage of people with a bedwetting condition have a decrease in this condition if, for a short time, they remove certain foods from their diet. These include citrus juices, carbonated drinks, and dairy products.

Bedwetting can sometimes be due to other physical problems. So to rule these out, anyone with a bedwetting condition should first be seen by a doctor. There are several treatment programs available, such as alarms and prescriptive medications including Tofranil and DDAVP that work best under your doctor's supervision. Researchers have also found that special exercises called the Kegel technique (pelvic muscle exercises) can help with daytime and nighttime bladder control.

Readers interested in a copy of Kegel exercise instructions may write to: Kegel Exercise, The Saturday Evening Post, 1100 Waterway Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46202. Please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your request.

Sincerely,

Cory SerVaas, M.D.
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Title Annotation:questions on asthma, bedwetting
Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:U.S. Kids
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2000
Words:481
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