Asthma

Get to Know More about Chronic Asthma

January 16th, 2018
Get to Know More about Chronic Asthma

Asthma is typically referred as chronic (long-term) disease that makes airways in the lungs to get irritated and inflamed (swollen) making it difficult to breathe. Its major symptoms include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Sometimes also referred to as bronchial asthma, Asthma can hit at any age but mostly begins in childhood. A large number of children grow out of asthma by their teens. Others come across the development of asthma in adulthood (adult-onset asthma). Asthma habitually runs in families and can be linked with allergic conditions such as eczema and hay fever.

In case of asthma, the airways in the lungs become sensitive to specific irritants. When irritants get exposed to the small airways in the lungs, they become irritated and swollen and the muscles adjoining the bronchiole walls compress. Excess mucus is generated inside the airways and it gets difficult for air to move to and from the lungs, leading to difficulty breathing and resulting into a cough, wheeze, and shortness of breath that are signs of asthma.

Asthma attacks are typically indicated by hard breathing – particularly exhaling. The sternness of asthma symptoms differs from person to person. Some get only mild symptoms while others may experience very severe symptoms. Attacks can take place instantly and can happen after periods of being moderately symptom-free. A severe asthma attack can be dangerous for life if treatment is not given immediately. Common signs and symptoms of asthma include:

  • Coughing – which may deteriorate at night
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty speaking (in more severe attacks)
  • Blueness around the mouth (in more severe attacks)

Causes

The precise reason for asthma is not fully known. It is known to be caused by a mix of genetic (inherited) and environmental elements.  It may be associated with modern living, such as environmental changes, diet or exposure to some infections.

It is believed that most people with asthma continually have some level of inflammation in their airways. Their airways are also sensitive to specific irritants, known as triggers. Triggers can lead to chest tightening or contraction of the inflamed airways, thus triggering an asthma attack. Each individual is known to have different asthma triggers. Common asthma triggers include:

  • Pollens or molds
  • House dust mites
  • Animals
  • Air pollution
  • Certain foods or food additives
  • Strong perfumes
  • Exercise
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Some medicines eg: aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, beta blockers
  • Respiratory infections such as colds and influenza
  • Variation in temperature and humidity
  • Psychological influences -excesses of emotion
  • Workplace irritants such as paint and varnish fumes, flour, wood dust

Treatment: - Being asthma a non-curable disorder, it can be managed by preventing promoters and by using necessary medications. There are different types of asthma medications available on the market.  An experienced doctor may tell which may be the best matching for the patient.  The major types of medications used to manage asthma are:

Presenters:These include inhaled corticosteroid medicines that are used to reduce inflammation and mitigate the body’s reaction to promoters. They take time to showing a response (up to three months of continuous use). They are inhaled on a daily basis to prevent symptoms. Some examples of preventers include fluticasone (Flixotide), budesonide (Pulmicort) and beclomethasone (Beclozone).

Relievers: These inhaled medications relax the airways’ muscle thus reducing tightening and easing the symptoms of asthma. They are often known as bronchodilators. They react quickly and are used to ease symptoms after they start.  A few examples of short-acting relievers are terbutaline (Bricanyl) and salbutamol (Ventolin).

Symptom controllers: These are long-term inhaled relievers and are employed in the mix with a preventer. They perform by keeping the airway muscles comfortable and are generally used twice a day. The consumption of a symptom controller must lessen the need to use a short-acting reliever.

Combination inhalers: Combination inhalers include both preventer and symptom controller medicine in a single device. Some examples of combination inhalers include fluticasone and salmeterol (Seretide) and budesonide and formoterol (Symbicort).

As the above-mentioned medications are inhaled, they are given directly to the lungs and are known to act immediately.  Augmented frequency and/or harshness of asthma symptoms may need a modification in the treatment regimen or a surge in the amount of medication taken. A course of corticosteroid medication (e.g. prednisone) in either liquid or tablet form may be suggested until symptoms are managed.

Extreme asthma attacks may come across the need for hospitalization to reduce symptoms. Relieving medication may be needed with the use of a nebulizer or intravenously (as an infusion into a drip in the hand or arm). Intravenous corticosteroids may also be used.

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