Asthma Treatment and Symptoms

 

 

Asthma is a long term disease of the lungs which can be classified as chronic. The disease results in inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Due to this inflammation of the airways, they become very sensitive to irritations and in turn increase the chances of an allergic reaction. Because of the inflammation, the airways get constricted letting less air pass through them.

Although it is not certain what causes asthma, what is known is that a person has more chances of developing asthma if they have a family history of the disease, eczema or allergies.

What is asthma: A Wikipedia article on asthma
Asthmafoundation.org.au: the official website of the asthma foundation of Australia
Asthma.org.au: The official site of The Asthma Foundation, Victoria
Asthma statistics: A link containing various other informative links on asthma
AAAAI: The official site of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology

Symptoms of Asthma

Symptoms of asthma can vary from person to person. One might not have all the listed symptoms or might have different symptoms at different times. Symptoms can also vary from one attack of asthma to another. Common symptoms of asthma are:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Breathing rapidly
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Blue lips or fingernails
  • Pain, tightness or pressure in the chest
  • Retraction of the neck and chest muscles

Some warning signs that an asthma attack is imminent are:

  • Coughing frequently
  • Loss of breath
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Feeling moody
  • Getting upset or grouchy easily
  • Having trouble sleeping

If you have early warning signs or symptoms of asthma, you should take more asthma medication as described in your asthma action plan.

Asthma symptoms: An article on the symptoms of asthma
Symptoms of Asthma: An article providing detailed information on symptoms of asthma
Asthma in children â€" basic facts: All one needs to know about asthma in children

What is an Asthma Attack?

An asthma attack is described as the situation where symptoms of asthma flare up and get more intense and/or more symptoms appear. Asthma attacks are categorized as mild, moderate, severe and very severe.

Asthma attacks can, in some cases be fatal. The reason being that sometimes the airways get so constricted that oxygen cannot enter the lungs.

At other times asthma attacks let air get into lungs but prevent carbon dioxide to leave quickly enough. This results in carbon dioxide building up in the lungs and in turn decreasing the amount of oxygen that gets into the bloodstream.

Asthma Triggers â€" What are They?

Certain things can trigger an asthma attack in people with the disease. These triggers are not standard and one can have a different trigger than another asthma patient. One of the many ways to manage asthma is to identify, understand and avoid your triggers. Some of the most common triggers are:

  • Smoking
  • Tobacco smoke (Second-hand and third-hand smoke)
  • Smoke from wood or grass
  • Exercise
  • Cold air
  • Smog
  • Dust mites
  • Hormones
  • Air pollution
  • Cockroach allergen
  • Pets
  • Mold
  • Hot, humid air
  • Scents
  • Strong emotion
  • Influenza
  • Cold
  • Sinuses
  • Certain foods
  • Food additives

Causes of asthma: A detailed article on the causes of asthma
All about asthma: A detailed article on asthma
Asthma basics: An article on all you need to know about asthma

Treating Asthma

There is no cure for asthma. However it can be effectively managed by taking medicine at the right times and avoiding your triggers.

Step up and step down treatment
Optimal management of asthma is when it is controlled using the minimum possible amount of medicine. To do this the doctor you are visiting will most probably take a stepwise approach. This approach has five steps. The doctor will step you “up” and increase your medicine when symptoms worsen and step you “down” and decrease your medicine when symptoms are not that harsh.

Asthma treatment and drugs: An article discussing the various treatments and medications that are required to manage asthma
Childhood asthma: An article that talks about asthma during childhood

Managing Asthma

  • Make a personal asthma action plan - Have an action plan in consultation with your doctor, which covers:
    • Medicines required
    • How much and when to take your medicine
    • Signs that help you identify when asthma symptoms are getting worse and how to tackle the situation
  • Know your triggers - Know and understand things which trigger your asthma symptoms. Take precautions to avoid these triggers.
  • Proper diet - Shift to a healthy diet plan that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and also drink lots of water.
  • Exercise regularly - Although exercise may be an asthma trigger for some people it is still good for asthma patients. Exercise regularly. If it turns out that exercise is your trigger use your reliever five to ten minutes prior to beginning your exercise and keep it close by at all times.

 

Asthma treatment in children: a detailed article discussing the treatment of asthma in children.

Asthma Medication

Medication for asthma depends on various things such as age, symptoms, asthma triggers, etc. Medicine for asthma is most effective when it is disbursed directly into the lungs. This can be done via a reliever, preventers or spacers. Your doctor will be the one to prescribe the most appropriate one to you.
Medication for asthma can be preventive, long-term control medication or quick relief inhalers that immediately provide relief. The main long term asthma control medications are:

  • Inhaled corticosteroids
  • Leukotriene modifiers
  • Long-acting beta agonists
  • Combination inhalers
  • Theophylline

The main quick relief medications are:

  • Short-acting beta agonists
  • Ipratropium (Atrovent)
  • Oral and intravenous corticosteroids

Medication for asthma: an article that talks about options available for asthma medication

As mentioned, asthma medicines are most effective when disbursed directly into the lungs. This can be done via a reliever, preventers or spacers.

Relievers
Generally blue in color these relievers help in immediately relieving symptoms of asthma. Relievers play an important role in containing asthma attacks.

Preventers
Preventers control the swelling and inflammation in the airways. Generally brown or orange in color, preventer medicines decrease the risk of a severe asthma attack.
Preventer inhalers also have small amounts of a steroid called corticosteroids. This steroid is naturally produced by the body and is safe.

Spacers
Spacers work in combination with an aerosol inhaler. Spacers also help deliver medicine directly to the lungs.

Asthma medication: An article discussing medication for asthma
Asthma in detail: A comprehensive article discussing all aspects of asthma
Asthma inducers: An article by the Canadian Lung Association about asthma inducers/triggers

10 Facts about Asthma You Should Know

  • Asthma has no cure.
  • Asthma is more often than not found to begin during childhood, although it affects people of all ages.
  • In managing asthma it is very important to treat symptoms when they first appear.
  • Severe asthma attacks can be fatal.
  • Asthma can flare up at any time and even when you believe you are fine you still have disease.
  • There has been a steady rise in asthma patients. This is speculated to be due to various changes in our lifestyles. E.g. changes in housing, diet etc.
  • Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of the child developing asthma.
  • Children who have parents that smoke are more likely to develop asthma.
  • Common irritants that are found at workplaces can lead to the onset of asthma. This is also called occupational asthma.
  • Asthma has decreased in kids over the past decade in Australia but not in adults

Asthma FAQs: An article containing FAQs on asthma
Asthmaaustralia.org.au: The official site for Asthma Australia
nationalasthma.org.au: The official site of the National Asthma Council of Australia
Facts about asthma: An article discussing various facts about asthma

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