Asthma is defined in medical terms as a chronic inflammatory condition of the respiratory system that leads to swelling and inflammation which narrows down the airways used for breathing. Warning signs of asthma include coughing, chest tightening and loss of breath along with your body producing a whistling sound while you breathe, called wheezing.
Clinically, asthma is classified into FEV1 (Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second) and PEF (or PEFR), which is Peak Expiratory Flow/Rate. Classification of asthma is done by analyzing severity. Irrespective of the classification, the treatment is the same for all asthma types, yet they have different responses from each patient. Asthma generally begins at childhood, but it effects people of all age groups. Children between the ages of 3 to 14 have higher chances of developing asthma if they are positive for skin allergies and elevated immunoglobulin E.
The tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs are called airways. These airways are inflamed in cases of people suffering from asthma. In asthmatics, or person suffering from asthma, these airways are always overly sensitive to any external particles or stimuli that the person with asthma may breathe in. As a result the airways remain constantly swollen. As the airways narrow down and allow less air to pass, the asthmatic will begin to face extreme difficulty in breathing. The coughing symptoms of asthma happen mostly in the middle of the night and early mornings.
There is no definitive cause for developing asthma, but the condition is often inherited. Asthma patients usually have a parent or another relative that also has suffers from asthma. Often times environmental conditions, to a degree, can initiate the development of asthma. People inflicted with an airborne allergy can also become susceptible to asthma. The association of asthma with the presence of cockroaches is also very strong. Cockroaches are regarded as the insects most likely to cause an infection leading to asthma.
Asthma is an incurable condition which will stay with you even if you feel fine and exhibit no symptoms for an extended period of time. The symptoms may be gone, but you still run the risk of suffering an asthma attack at anytime. Though this disease cannot be cured, asthma is still manageable by many patients. These people show fewer symptoms once they learn to properly manage and cope with asthma. Asthmatics are capable of leading perfectly normal, physically active lives one they learn to manage the disease and control their symptoms.
Every single day an average of eleven people in America will die as a result of asthma complications. Statistics indicate there are in excess of 4,000 deaths directly caused by asthma every twelve months, many of which are preventable with the use of appropriate medical treatment and asthma management. Moreover, asthma is indicated as being a major contributing element for nearly 7,000 additional deaths annually.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America -http://www.aafa.org
Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma is unfortunately becoming a common disease and the percentage of asthmatics is very high among children. Depending upon the symptoms level of its severity, asthma can be manageable for many patients. The common symptoms of asthma are:
- Coughing that is increased during night and early morning
- Chest tightening
- Feeling short of breath
- Constantly running nose
- And even reddened and itchy skin with under eye dark circles can also be the symptoms of asthma.
Having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have asthma and even in some cases of asthma these symptoms are not present. Until you are examined by a physician you should not come to the conclusion of asthma as a diagnosis. A collection of tests to monitor lung function known as PFTs (Pulmonary Function Tests) are administered by a medical specialist in order to correctly diagnose asthma.
There are some asthma symptoms that may even mean a severe asthma attack is imminent that could threaten your life. These foreboding symptoms can range from:
- Very fast breathing
- Prolific sweating
- The color of fingertips changes
- Feeling short of breath
- Having difficulty while talking
- Severe level of wheezing
Experiencing these symptoms mean you may be facing an asthma attack that could cost you your life if immediate medical attention is not sought. Anyone showing these symptoms should be urgently taken to the hospital or the physician for immediate medical treatment. Though it is an incurable disease, asthma is still manageable to the point you can live a long and active life. Identifying the disease and symptoms along with seeking proper medical treatment on time helps the patients to manage asthma.
Ways of Treating Asthma
As asthma is a persistent disease, its treatment and prevention is a lifelong process after being diagnosed. Preventer medication makes it easier to manage the symptoms associated with asthma. A very good way of improving your condition of asthma and leading a better life is learning about all the possible asthma triggers, treatments, symptoms and complications along with keeping up-to-date on new information and advancements in asthma treatment discovered in the future.
- You should consult your physician or local healthcare center so they may provide you with their support on finding and understanding information about asthma. Educating patients with their knowledge about your type of asthma is their job. They will be capable of answering any questions you may have about asthma.
- Be cautious about your asthma causes. You should keep in mind anything and everything that initiates your asthma attacks and do your best to completely avoid those substances.
- Follow the treatment recommended by your doctor precisely.
- Try to understand how each asthma drug helps you. This will assist you to understand which medicine to opt for when you even feel even the slightest of difference in your condition.
- Visit your physician regularly.
- Keep a close track of the improvements or even worsening of asthma symptoms.
- If you are experiencing any negative side effects because of asthma medication, immediately bring it to the attention of your physician.
- Avoid direct exposure to pollens.
- Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, so avoid going to any place that may have a certain level of low air quality. Best practice is to restrict your outdoor sessions to a minimal duration of time and install some sort of air purifier in the home that makes use of HEPA air filters to reduce pollen, dust, dander and other irritants that could trigger an attack.
- Animal fur can also worsen your situation. Keep away from furry pets.
- Get tests done for allergies and consult your physician and ask for allergy shots for any particular allergen that worsens your asthma.
- Long term treatment of asthma involves medicines like Inhaled corticosteroids. They provides relief from swelling or inflammation of the airways that do not pass enough air causing asthmatics to feel short of breath. They generally don't have any side effects and are not addictive.
- If you are prescribed with a long term asthma treatment then you should take the medicines daily (or as otherwise prescribed) without fail. Irregularity in treatment will make the symptoms return and worsen your condition.
- There are some medicines which provide quick relief from asthma; they are inhaled short-acting beta2-agonists. If you are using this type of asthma treatment more than twice every week then you should discuss with your physician the condition and severity of your asthma.
- A new surgical procedure to treat asthma symptoms (known as Bronchial Thermoplasty) was approved by the FDA in 2010. Bronchial Thermoplasty has been shown to provide long-term relief for adults who who suffer from severe or highly persistent asthma attacks that are not well managed using traditional asthma treatment methods.