Asthma is one of the most common respiratory diseases, characterized by inflammation of the airways, causing restriction in the normal airflow in and out of the lungs. When the airways become inflamed, Mucus builds up, limiting the amount of oxygen circulating in the lung.
According to statistics, more than 25 million asthmatics are in the United States. Patients with asthma typically experience wheezing attacks, shortness of breath, coughing, and other predominant symptoms after exposure to one or more triggers such as allergens, irritants, or stress.
Some people may consider asthma a minor condition, but an asthma attack can be life-threatening and interrupt daily activities if the airflow is severely restricted.
Even though several ongoing studies are devoted to finding a cure, asthma remains a mysterious disease.
What Causes Asthma?
Children are more prone to asthma attacks than adults. Researchers are yet to discover the exact underlying cause of asthma but believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors may contribute to its occurrence.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) reports that Exposure to viral infections during infancy increases the risk of developing this condition. Some asthma triggers and causes are pregnancy, obesity, hormonal factors, and allergies.
Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma symptoms vary and may persist depending on the severity of your condition. Asthma Symptoms may worsen due to Exposure to asthma triggers or allergens. Frequently diagnosed symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty sleeping due to coughing or wheezing
- Chest tightness
- A whistling or wheezing sound
When patients engage in certain activities, such as exercising, their asthma signs and symptoms are likely to flare up.
Types of Asthma
Frequently diagnosed forms of asthma include:
This type of asthma is commonly known as exercise-induced asthma and frequently occurs during physical activities. This type of asthma is caused by inhaling dry air, which causes constriction of the airways.
People without asthma can be affected by this condition too. Symptoms may last for a few minutes after you stop the activities triggering the disease.
Occupational hazard usually affects people who work around known triggers and chemical fumes.
In most cases, allergy-induced asthma results from airborne substances such as pet dander, mold, and pollen.
Eosinophilic asthma is a chronic form common in adults between 35 and 50 years old. This condition is characterized by an elevated white blood cell (eosinophil) in the body.
Several things can increase the risk of developing asthma. Examples of such include:
- Environmental factors
- Whether your parents have asthma, especially your mother
- race (asthma is common in African Americans or Puerto Ricans
- sex(women are more likely to have asthma than men)
- overall health status(people with lung infection or obesity have a higher risk than others)
To determine the severity of your condition, your doctor will perform a physical examination and discuss your symptoms. Your doctor may order the following tests:
A peak flow test helps determine how well your lungs push out air. They are easy to use and can even be done from the comfort of your home. A peak test can indicate when your condition requires emergency care.
Exhaled Nitric Oxide Test
An elevated nitric oxide level in the body can indicate an inflammatory condition in the airway. Nitric oxide helps transport oxygen to all parts of the body.
A nitric oxide test involves breathing into a tube connected to a machine that measures the amount of nitric oxide in your breath.
By analyzing your blood sample in a lab, you can test allergens that trigger asthma attacks. You can prevent attacks in the future by avoiding known triggers.
To determine a treatment plan appropriate for your asthma, you should consult with a healthcare professional. An over-the-counter remedy for quick relief may alleviate your symptoms and ease discomfort if your condition is mild.
Medications for asthma include:
- bronchodilators that relax muscles around the airways
- Inhaled corticosteroids, or oral steroids, can be used as anti-inflammatory medications for long-term maintenance
- Combining corticosteroids with bronchodilators
While medication is the key to controlling asthma, you can also take preventive measures at home to avoid frequent attacks. Always keep your home free from all known triggers like dust and molds.