Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rural teenage girls are more likely than boys to suffer from undiagnosed asthma and depression

Rural teenage girls are more likely than boys to have undiagnosed asthma, and asthma sufferers are at a higher risk to suffer from depression, says a study by researchers at Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. The study, which was conducted from 2010-13 using data from 2,523 Georgia adolescents, found that diagnosed and undiagnosed asthma was the same in rural and urban areas but that girls had a much higher rate than boys.

Lead author Dr. Jeana Bush theorized that boys might be more likely to have athletic physicals, which would increase the chances of catching asthma, while girls might be more likely to dismiss asthmatic symptoms as something else, like anxiety.

"Teens from rural areas face a number of problems that could complicate their asthma, including poor housing quality, air pollution, trouble getting to doctors, smaller, less-equipped hospitals and more exposure to tobacco," says a release from Georgia Regents University. "Previous studies have shown smoking is more prevalent in rural areas than inner-cities."

The rate of depression among asthmatic teens is also higher in rural areas, researchers said. For the study, researchers screened 332 asthmatic sufferers from rural Georgia for depression, finding that 26 percent suffered from depression. Of that 26 percent, 77 percent were girls. Bush said, "So much of asthma treatment is about self-management—figuring out your symptoms and preventing an attack when you recognize those symptoms. If you’re depressed, you are less likely to be aware of and have the ability to interpret those symptoms.”

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