What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic condition in which the airways of a person become inflamed and narrow. It is an inflammatory disease and affects the airways of the lungs. Airways are the tubes that carry air in or out of your lungs. Asthma can affect people of all age groups. However, it can start in childhood as well. Asthma can be mild or severe. Cold air can make asthma symptoms worse (known as asthma triggers).
Symptoms of asthma
Symptoms of asthma vary from person to person. You may feel some asthma attacks while exercising or have symptoms all the time.
Signs and symptoms include-
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Wheezing when exhaling
- Coughing or wheezing attacks
Signs that indicate severeness of disease-
- Increasing difficulty in breathing.
- Need to use an inhaler quickly.
Causes of asthma
The exact cause of asthma is still unknown and may vary from person to person. Asthma is the result of the response of the immune system to any substance in the lungs. If you want to understand asthma, it will help you to understand the functioning of the lungs. When any person breathes an allergen in, the immune system may react strongly. Other people exposed to the substance may not react at all.
The immune system reacts against an allergen by causing inflammation, due to which your airways become narrow and swell. Hence, they started producing more mucus. It becomes harder to breathe. The muscles surrounding the airways may also get tighten. So, the airway walls may also become thicker.
Your doctor will create a treatment plan for you to manage your symptoms and asthma attacks. Treatment is based on age, the severity of the disease, and response to the treatment. Your doctor will adjust your symptoms according to the symptoms after the treatment.
Short-term medicines- Short-term medicines are quick-relief medicines that help in the prevention of symptoms or relieve symptoms during an asthma attack.
Long-term medicines- Your doctor may prescribe long-term medicaments which help in preventing symptoms by reducing the inflammation and preventing narrowing the airways. However, this treatment may vary from age to age.
Precautions for asthma patients
Asthma patients should take more precautions when there is any respiratory illness spreading in their community. Other precautions include-
Taking all the drugs as prescribed- Patients with asthma should take all the prescribed medications regularly without skipping. Rescue inhalers, steroid inhalers, steroid pills, and biologics should be used as directed. It is advised by CDC to follow an asthma action plan.
It is a personalized plan that is followed by the patients to control their symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. This plan includes-
- Having a good supply of medication
- Knowledge of using an inhaler correctly
- Avoiding asthma triggers
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces
- Avoiding any cleaning products that can trigger asthma
- Following steps to reduce stress and anxiety
Avoiding asthma triggers- Here are some triggers for asthma that should not be used-
- Tobacco smoke
- Dust mites
- Air pollution
- Weather extremes
- Acid reflux
- Strong fragrances
- Alcohol or food additives
Stay away from allergens- If you have allergies or asthma, you should keep your distance from allergens. Exposure to allergens can increase inflammation in the airways which can lead to difficulty in breathing.
Prevent cold- Put in all the efforts to stay well. Avoid close contact with people who have a cold or flu because it can worsen your condition. If you are in a contact with a person having any respiratory disorder then wash your hands properly.
Get your vaccinations- Get a flu shot to protect yourself from the flu virus, which can make your symptoms worse day by day.
Use a home peak flow meter- A home peak flow meter shows how well the air is moving through your lungs. This will give you time to take medicines prescribed by your doctor and stop the attack before it starts.
Consider immunotherapy Allergy shots- If you have allergies allergy shot will help you in preventing allergy symptoms and also prevent your asthma from getting worse. Your doctor injects small doses of allergens with your allergy shots under your skin.
To conclude, asthma is a chronic respiratory disorder that can be found in difficulty in breathing, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. Swelling and narrowing of airways and increased production of mucus are the major causes of asthma condition. These medicines are used to control symptoms of asthma by reducing the inflammation of the airways. Short-term medicines are used for the immediate relief of asthma attacks. Also, Inhalation of allergens and pollutants, exercise, exposure to cold weather can be considered as major risk factors of asthma. Asthma affects a person’s physical, psychological, or social well-being. Reach out to professional healthcare providers to ensure proper prevention and treatment for asthma.