WHAT IS ASTHMA?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease which causes the lung airways (bronchi) to become inflamed and hypersensitive to certain triggers.
Asthma affects people of all races and ages, and although there is currently no known cure, there are many ways to control it.
Symptoms of Asthma
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of asthma early is an important when managing asthma. When you know when the early warning signs or mild symptoms occur it will ensure that treatment and other interventions can begin early.
When Asthma symptoms are checked Accurately and on timely assessment it can help prevent severe asthma which can lead to emergency room visits.
Early Warning Signs
Early warning signs occur before the start of an asthma episode. When we know how to recognize these signs that occur before an actual asthma symptom, we can start treatments on time. These signs are unique to each person. they may be the same, similar or entirely different with each episode.
Some examples of early warning signs are:
- Breathing changes
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Chin or throat itches
- Feeling tired
- Dark circles under eyes
- Trouble sleeping
- Poor tolerance for exercise
Asthma symptoms signal that an asthma episode or attack is occurring. Examples of asthma
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the chest
People with asthma may experience some or all of these symptoms during an asthma attack. The best course of Action is to treat these symptoms before they become worse.
Severe Asthma Symptoms
Severe asthma symptoms are a life-threatening emergency as they indicate serious respiratory distress.
Examples of severe asthma symptoms include:
- Severe coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or tightness in the chest
- Difficulty talking or concentrating
- Walking causes shortness of breath
- Breathing may become shallow and fast or slower than usual
- Hunched shoulders
- Nasal flaring (Nostril size increases with breathing)
- Chest retractions
- Cyanosis: when the skin has a Gray or bluish tint, beginning around the mouth
How Is Asthma Diagnosed
Asthma can be hard to diagnose, especially in children under 5 years of age. Regular physical checkups that include checking your lung function and checking for allergies can help your healthcare provider make the right diagnosis. Checking for all the asthma symptoms may also help for a faster diagnosis.
Also, A lung function test, called spirometry, is another way to diagnose asthma. A spirometer measures the largest amount of air you can exhale, or breathe out, after taking a very deep breath. The spirometer can measure airflow before and after you use asthma medicine.
What Is An Asthma Attack?
When a person is experiencing an asthma episode, two related changes that take in their airways. First, the airway linings become inflamed, swollen, and produces excess mucus. then, the muscles around these hypersensitive airways start to spasm, causing them to constrict.
These changes cause the airways to narrow and make it difficult to breathe. The attack may include coughing, chest tightness, breathlessness, and difficulty in breathing. Some people call an asthma attack an “episode.” With proper asthma management, this can generally be reversed so that breathing return back to normal.
What Causes An Asthma Attack?
An asthma attack can occur when you are exposed to certain things known as “asthma triggers”. Asthma triggers vary from person to person. They can be grouped into two categories: allergic triggers and non-allergic triggers.
The most common allergic triggers include:
Some people are allergic to skin fakes (dander), urine, or saliva from animals and bird
What to do
- Keep pets with fur or feathers out of your home.
- If you can’t keep a pet outdoors, then keep the pet out of your bedroom, and keep the bedroom door closed.
- Keep pets off upholstered furniture and away from stuffed toys.
- Wash your hands after petting or playing with pets.
Tiny spider-like mites live in cloth, carpet, and bedding and are too small to see with the naked eye.
What to do
- Get special dust mite-proof covers for your pillows and mattresses.
- Wash sheets and blankets in hot water every week.
- Wash stuffed animals frequently and dry completely.
- Use a high-quality furnace filter.
- Avoid having carpeting, if you can, or vacuum weekly with a HEPA vacuum cleaner.
POLLEN & OUTDOOR AIR POLLUTION
Some people are allergic to molds or pollen from trees, grass, and weeds
MICE, RATS, & COCKROACHES
What to do
- Seal openings, cracks, and crevices.
- Do not leave food or garbage uncovered.
- Clean up spills and food crumbs right away.
- Store food in airtight containers and cooking grease in the refrigerator.
- Keep food out of the bedroom.
Non-allergic triggers include:
Tobacco smoke can make asthma worse.
What to do
Do not allow smoking or vaping in your home or car, or around you.
Colds and Chest Infections
When you’re sick, your asthma is more likely to flare up
What to do
- Wash your hands often.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Get a flu shot every year, preferably in the fall.
- Avoid contact with people who have colds.
Extreme Temperatures, Weather Changes and Emotional
Cold air, changes in weather, and strong emotions can set of an asthma attack.
What to do
Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf when it gets cold.
Sometimes laughing or crying can be a trigger.
Some medicines and foods can trigger asthma
This can trigger an asthma attack for some people.
What to do
Take your rescue medicine before sports or exercise to prevent symptoms if directed by your health care provider.
Warm up/cool down for 5-10 minutes before and after sports or exercise.
TYPES OF ASTHMA
- Childhood Asthma
- Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA)
- Occupational Asthma
- Adult Onset Asthma
The current treatment of asthma is to minimize the symptoms, maintain the normal lung functions and prevent irreversible changes within the airways.
These treatments include
used to open the airways during an asthma attack or when there are asthma symptoms, making it easier to breathe.
reduce and control swelling and mucus production in the airways, making it easier for a person to breathe. These include corticosteroids, leukotriene receptor antagonists and anti-allergics.
Controller medications also include long-acting bronchodilators, theophylline and ipratropium, which are usually taken in conjunction with inhaled corticosteroids.
b2-Adrenoceptor agonists and glucocorticoids are at present the most effective drugs for the treatment of airway obstruction and inflammation, with theophylline, leukotriene receptor antagonists and anticholinergics as second- or third-line therapy. Read more here
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learn how to control your asthma. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/.
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Asthma Symptoms. National Jewish Health. https://www.nationaljewish.org/conditions/asthma/overview/symptoms.