Asthma is a disorder of respiratory systems characterized by narrowing of the airway which produce extra mucus. This lead to breathing difficult and trigger coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing) when breathing out and shortness of breath.

Causes of Asthma

  • Allergic: Allergies can cause an asthma attack. This includes things like molds, pollens and pet dander.
  • Environmental factor: Outside factors can cause asthma to flare up. Exercise, stress, illness and weather may cause the occurrence.
  • Genetics: Family with history of asthma or allergic diseases, predispose individual to high risk of developing the disease.

Asthma triggers

Asthma triggers vary in individual which are:

  • Airborne allergens, which include pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander or particles of cockroach waste
  • Respiratory infections
  • Physical activity
  • Cold air
  • Strong chemical or smell
  • Air pollutants and irritants.
  • Medications, including beta blockers, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,
  • Strong emotions and stress
  • Preservatives added to foods and beverages, including shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, beer and wine
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Types of Asthma

Asthma is categorized based on the cause and the severity of symptoms. Asthma is identified as:

  1. Intermittent: This type of asthma comes and goes so as to feel normal in between asthma flares.
  2. Persistent: Persistent asthma means the symptoms is presented most of the time. Symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe. It is based on severity and duration of the symptoms

 Stages of Asthma attack

Asthma attack involves three stages which are:

  • Bronchospasm: During the stage of bronchospasm the muscles around the airways constrict (tighten). When they tighten, it makes the airways narrow leading to inability of air to flow freely through constricted airways.
  • Inflammation: The lining of the airways becomes swollen at this stage. Swollen airways reduce the amount of air flowing in or out of the lungs.
  • Mucus production: During the attack, body creates more mucus. This thick mucus clogs airways.

Symptoms of Asthma

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Wheezing when exhaling
  • Insomnia caused by shortness of breath.
  • Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus.

Diagnosis of Asthma

Physical examination:  Medical health provider examines the patient by listening to the sound of the chest. Also, past medical history is taken to evaluate the genetics cause of the condition.

Spirometry:  this test is carried to measure the airflow through the lungs and is used to diagnose and monitor the progress of the treatment.

Chest x-ray

Treatment of Asthma

  1. Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around the airways. The relaxed muscles allow the airways move air. They also allow mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve the symptoms when they happen and are used for intermittent and chronic asthma.
  2. Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in the airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit the lungs. Healthcare provider may prescribe to be taken daily to control or prevent symptoms of chronic asthma.
  3. Biologic therapies for asthma: These are used for severe asthma when symptoms persist despite proper inhaler therapy.

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