Asthma is a disorder that causes swelling of the airways of the lungs and makes them narrow. The condition leads to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.
Symptoms of asthma-
Symptoms of asthma may range from minor to severe and may vary from one person to another. The person may have mild symptoms and infrequent asthma attacks. The person may feel normal between asthma flare ups and have no trouble in breathing.
Some may have symptoms primarily at night, during exercise or when exposed to triggers or some may have symptoms all the time.
Asthma signs and symptoms may include:
• Shortness of breath
• Chest tightness or pain
• Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
• An audible whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
• Bouts of coughing or wheezing that are worsened by a respiratory virus such as a cold or the flu
Signs that asthma is getting worse may include:
• More frequent and bothersome asthma signs and symptoms
• Increasing difficulty breathing
• An increasingly frequent need to use a quick-relief inhaler
Asthma triggers for some people may include:
• Exercise-induced asthma occurs during exercise. For many people, it may become worse when the air is cold and dry.
• Occupational asthma is asthma that's caused or worsened by breathing in a workplace irritant such as chemical fumes, gases or dust.
• Some people have asthma symptoms that are triggered by particular allergens, such as pet dander, cockroaches or pollen.
Causes of asthma-
The reason why some people get asthma and others don’t is not clear but the condition is probably caused by combination of environmental and genetic factors.
Asthma triggers may differ from person to another. Exposure to various allergens and irritants can trigger the signs and symptoms of asthma. These may include:
• Airborne allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, mold, cockroaches and dust mites
• Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
• Physical activity (exercise-induced asthma)
• Cold air
• Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke
• Certain medications, including beta blockers, aspirin and other non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
• Strong emotions and stress
• Sulfites, preservatives added to some types of foods and beverages
• Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which stomach acids back up into your throat
• Menstrual cycle in some women
• Allergic reactions to some foods, such as peanuts or shellfish
Treatment of asthma-
The treatment aims at preventing and controlling the asthma attacks. Treatment usually involves determining the triggers and taking steps to avoid them. The doctor may also track the breathing to make sure that medications are keeping asthma under control.
In case asthma flares up, a quick relief inhaler such as albuterol can be used.
Medications may be prescribed depending on factors such as age, symptoms, asthma triggers and what can work best for keeping it under control.
Long-term control medications include
• Inhaled corticosteroids
• Leukotriene modifiers
• Long-acting beta agonists (LABAs)
• Combination inhalers such as fluticasone and salmeterol (Advair Diskus) and budesonide and formoterol (Symbicort)
• Short-acting beta agonists
• Ipratropium (Atrovent)
• Oral and intravenous corticosteroids
Treatment for allergy-induced asthma
• Allergy shots (immunotherapy)
• Omalizumab (Xolair)
• Allergy medications
Treatment by severity for better control: A stepwise approach
Asthma action plan