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Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in the lungs. It classifies as a lung condition that causes difficulties in breathing. It affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood. There is no cure for Asthma, but it can be kept under control using simple treatments. About 25 million Americans have Asthma — including 8% of adults and 7% of children. It is more common in adult women than in men. It has two subtypes, namely:
Atopic and Non-Atopic
Atopic Asthma – is extrinsic Asthma meaning the environment triggers it. Atopic Asthma is most common. It involves inflammation mediated by systemic IgE production.
Non-Atopic Asthma – is intrinsic Asthma and is far less common. Inflammation is mediated by local IgE production.
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What Causes Asthma?
During an asthma attack, the muscle wall contracts. The lining of the airways gets inflamed and swollen. This happens because there is an increase in mucous production in the bronchiole, accumulating goblet cells. The number of eosinophils also rises inside the tissue. There is an increase of mast cells of Lamina Propria, resulting in a larger histamine release. The number of neutrophil cells and T-helper cells grow during inflammation too. Smooth muscle cell hypertrophy means an increase in cell size. Because of these cell activities, three major characteristicscan be seen:
- Airflow obstruction (caused by the tubes that carry air becoming narrower)
- Bronchial hyperresponsiveness
Common Asthma triggers include in-house dust mites, animal fur, pollen, smoke, pollution, cold air, exercise, or infections like a cold or the flu. Asthma is a long-term condition seen in many people. However, in children, the condition often goes away or improves during their teenage years; though, it may come back later in life.
Who Can Develop Asthma?
- People with a blood relative who has/had Asthma
- Those with an allergic condition, like atopic dermatitis
- Exposure to smoke, fumes from exhausts, use of chemicals in farming, hairdressing, or manufacturing can trigger it
- Wheezing: This results in a whistling sound while breathing.
- Shortness of Breath
- Tightness of Chest
- Dry Irritating Cough: Along with wheezing attacks, these can worsen in cold or flu cases.
These symptoms can be controlled with treatment. As a result, most people can live a normal and healthy life, but some people have severe Asthma causing them ongoing respiratory problems throughout their lives.
Asthma complications may lead to poor sleep and decreased productivity during the day. It may cause a permanent narrowing of the tubes, thus affecting how well you breathe. In addition, there may be several side effects of the medications used to relieve the symptoms.
Treatment Options Available
Treatment involves using an inhaler that lets the patient breathe in the medicine. There are two kinds of inhalers:
- Preventer inhalers are used every day to prevent Asthma.
- Reliever Inhalers are used in the case of an asthma attack to relieve the symptoms in a short amount of time quickly.
How to Manage the Symptoms of Asthma?
- Make an asthma action plan. Using this plan makes you better equipped to manage the symptoms. This plan can be designed after consulting a doctor so that the patient doesn’t have to go to the hospital in case of an onset of symptoms.
- Understand the medication well. Each person’s Asthma is different, so the action plan needs to be personalized. Keep the preventer inhaler and the reliever inhaler with you every day — even if you feel well.
- Be sure of the inhaler technique.
- Keep, record, and review your asthma symptoms annually.
- Quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular exercise can alleviate symptoms. In addition, exercise improves stamina and is also good for boosting the immune system.
- How does one get Asthma? A variety of factors cause Asthma. Some people are born with it, while other environmental and lifestyle risk factors can contribute. For example, smoking, being overweight, and repeated exposure to harmful chemicals.
- I have Asthma. Will my children also have it? No one knows for sure, but genes are thought to play a role sometimes in passing down the condition — particularly in allergic Asthma.
- How do I know when I’m having an asthma attack? Asthma attacks occur after being triggered by certain stimulants, like allergens. They can be moderate to severe and include rapid breathing, chest tightening, shortness of breath, a blue tint on the skin and nails, increased heart rate, and chest retractions. But, of course, not all of these symptoms will occur during an attack, depending on its severity and the person who’s having it.
- Do I have to use the inhalers for the rest of my life? The simple answer is yes — if your Asthma and its symptoms persist throughout your life. However, always consult with your doctor before deciding if you still need an inhaler and find other treatment options as a backup.
- Do the steroids in the medicine have side effects? As with every drug, there are side effects, but they are not very common. Consult with your doctor to determine the side effects of the specific medicine you take.
- What is a nebulizer, and where can I get it? A nebulizer is a machine that converts medication from a liquid form into a mist that can be inhaled into one’s lungs. It usually is beneficial for children and infants, those who struggle with inhalers, or those who need to inhale larger doses of medication. They are available for purchase though they might need to be prescribed by a doctor depending on your medicine amount, which model you want, etc.
- Can I get the flu jab if I have Asthma? Yes — the flu vaccine will not aggravate one’s Asthma.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment. Always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!