Asthma is a condition associated with an inflammation, and excessive mucus lining of a patients airway; asthma is also characterized by hyperresponsive smooth muscle that surrounds the airway. The main symptoms of asthma are periodic asthma attacks resulting in airway smooth muscle spasm, inflammation and mucus production. These attacks lead to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain and, in some cases a loss of consciousness. Severe asthma attacks can be life threatening, especially in young children.
A BBC News article reported that there are over 3.4 million people in the UK that have asthma (2001). In 2006 the US National Center for Health Statistics reported 16.1 million people or 7.3% of the US population to have asthma. The same study found asthma to be responsible for 3,884 deaths in 2006.
The purpose of this website is to evaluate the efficacy of the popular press in accurately reporting advances in the field. 2 articles from the BBC News Health section, reporting on new findings surrounding the asthma-linked gene ADAM33, will be compared with a single study journal publication and a review article of the same topic. The two popular press articles will be evaluated on their ability to translate scientific jargon to non-scientific jargon while maintaining a degree of accuracy and the degree to which they allow the reader to think critically about the issue.
Image obtained at www.healthpm.com