The Secret Link Between Asthma and Eczema

The world is filled with diseases for which nobody has found a cure yet; some of these diseases are very severe while others just cause discomfort. With these types of diseases, the symptoms can be managed but scientists have yet to find any way of truly curing them. Most of these diseases are unrelated to each other and have no real connections to any other diseases. But in some cases, like in the cases of eczema and asthma, there are connections that make no real sense but remain nonetheless.

Eczema is basically a skin condition that causes different types of inflammation in the outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis. The symptoms can be very mild or very severe and including things like skin blistering, crusting, cracking, flaking, redness and itchiness, skin swelling and even oozing or bleeding in more severe cases. There are medications that can greatly control eczema’s symptoms – these are known as corticosteroids. However, while the disease can be managed, it can’t be cured.

Asthma is a chronic inflammation that occurs in the lungs that causes the airways to contract and narrow; this makes breathing difficult to almost impossible in some cases. 300 million people worldwide currently suffer from some type of asthma ranging from moderate to severe; 7% of the US population currently has it, many of them young children. Asthma symptoms include shortness of breath even when the body is at rest; a chronic cough; nighttime coughing and tightness in the chest. Asthma attacks have varying severity levels; they range from mild to severe enough to actually cause death and while asthma can be controlled in most cases with medication, there is no cure.

So how do these diseases, which are seemingly so different, have any connection to each other? However, nearly 50% of children – especially young children – who develop eczema will go on to develop asthma in a short period of time. Scientists have discovered why: when skin is damaged by eczema is secretes a substance that gets carried through the bloodstream – and into the lungs. This substance then triggers asthma-like symptoms that develop into full-blown asthma.

This is an invaluable discovery to the medical world. They now believe that if they can begin aggressively treating eczema and if they can make sure that the body doesn’t begin making that substance then most of the children who have eczema will not go on to develop asthma as well. If scientists can successfully do this, it will help save children from needlessly developing asthma.

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