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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Reading materials for asthmatics

The following originally published at on 8/13/13

Eight great reading materials for asthmatics

If you have asthma, or if you take care of an asthmatic, you may be interested in learning what people think about it or how it affects their lives.  There is a ton of reading material — from books to websites to articles — about asthma.  

Here is some reading I highly recommend you check out (besides, you may find them quite entertaining):

1.  Asthma: The biography: Mark Jackson recounts the history of asthma, beginning from ancient China to the present.    

2.  On Asthma: This is a book by fellow asthmatic and doctor Henry Hyde Salter, who details what it's like to both be an asthmatic and treat asthmatics during the 19th century. Dr. Salter was among the first to clearly define asthma as both spasmotic and nervous (yes, it's all in your head).  There are also several chapters with old asthma remedies.  This was the asthma book for reference during the second half of the 19th century.  

3.  Breathing Space: How allergies shape our lives and landscapes:  This book was written by Gregg Mitman.  He grew up with allergies, and through his book traces the ailment through space and time. I think this is essential reading because many people with asthma also have allergies. And, for the record, he provides a great history of asthma medicine.  

4. Lord of the Flies:  William Golding creates a character named Piggy, an asthmatic, who becomes isolated from the rest of the kids on an island. It kind of highlights how any asthmatic kid is forced to live and think differently. 

5.  Mornings on Horseback:  One of the chapters in this book by David McCullough highlights how Teddy Roosevelt lived and survived asthma in an age where there were no efficient asthma medicines. Dr. Salter (noted above) was his physician, so clearly Teddy's asthma was all in his head.  

6.  OK, so this isn't a book. But it's a website compiled by Mark Sanders filled with pictures of his wonderful antique inhalers and nebulizers collection that you must see.  He also displays a variety of antique ads for many of these older products as well.  Beware: Once you enter you may never want to leave.  It's like a good book you can't put down.

7.  Asthma for Dummies:  This is an asthma 101 book.  This is a mandatory read for anyone new to asthma. It's also a great review for the rest of us.  

8.  "Divine Stramonium": The rise and fall of smoking for asthma: This is actually an article published in a 2010 issue of Medical History by our friend Mark Jackson.  It describes the history of smoking for asthma.  Yes, believe it or not, for several thousands of years before the invention of the inhaler in the 1950s, the best way of inhaling asthma medicine was via smoke.  
 If there is any asthma or asthma-related material you'd like to recommend, please list it in the comments below!   

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