SymptomsThe most common symptom is wheezing. This is a scratchy or whistling sound when you breathe. Other symptoms include:
• Shortness of breath
• Chest tightness or pain
• Chronic coughing
• Trouble sleeping due to coughing or wheezing
CausesAsthma flareups or asthma attacks are caused by allergies and exposure to allergens such as pet dander, dust, pollen or mold. Other triggers could also include smoke, pollution, cold air, changes in weather.
More about Treatment
Asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways in the lungs. These airways, or bronchial tubes, allow air to come in and out of the lungs.
If you have asthma your airways are always inflamed. They become even more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten when something triggers your symptoms. This makes it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and/or chest tightness.
For many asthma sufferers, timing of these symptoms is closely related to physical activity. And, some otherwise healthy people can develop asthma symptoms only when exercising. This is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), or exercise-induced asthma (EIA). Staying active is an important way to stay healthy, so asthma shouldn't keep you on the sidelines. Your physician can develop a management plan to keep your symptoms under control before, during and after physical activity.
An allergist diagnoses asthma by taking a thorough medical history and performing breathing tests to measure how well your lungs work.
One of these tests is called spirometry. You will take a deep breath and blow into a sensor to measure the amount of air your lungs can hold and the speed of the air you inhale or exhale. This test diagnoses asthma severity and measures how well treatment is working.
A FeNO test or exhaled nitric oxide test, in patients with allergic or eosinophilic asthma, is a way to determine how much lung inflammation is present and how well inhaled steroids are suppressing this inflammation. With allergic or eosinophilic asthma, sometimes you may feel your breathing is fine, but when you measure your exhaled nitric oxide, it may still be significantly elevated, and you might do better in the long-term using slightly more of your inhaled steroid to suppress this inflammation.
Many people with asthma also have allergies, so your doctor may perform allergy testing. Treating the underlying allergic triggers for your asthma will help you avoid asthma symptoms.
FAQWhat are the types of asthma?
- Asthma can be of two main types; one which is triggered by exposure to allergy producing substances like pollen, dust; and another type which is triggered by exercise or physical exertion.
Who is prone to developing Asthma?
- Major risk factors for asthma are having a parent with asthma, allergies, exposure to chemicals and irritants in early age and later. In some cases, a history of respiratory infection as a child may be significant.
At what age do you develop symptoms of asthma?
- Asthma can begin showing signs in childhood (mostly associated with allergy) or it can develop later in life in adults (mostly exertional).
Is asthma an inherited disease?
- Though transmission from parent to child is not proven, but chances of developing asthma are high if there is history in parents. Genetics play an important role in asthma.
Can asthma be prevented?
- Though asthma cannot be prevented, but once the symptoms appear, an “attack” can be prevented by not getting exposed to allergy inducing substances, avoiding smoke and following the therapy diligently. In children, pneumonia and influenza vaccination may also help.
What are the medicines for asthma?
- Most common medicines prescribed in asthma are of the class bronchodilators – drugs that open up the swollen airways. Some are leukotriene modifiers, inhaled corticosteroids and theophylline. Steroids may be injected in cases of severe attacks for quick relief.
Why do I have to follow-up with my doctor regularly?
- Regular follow-up and frequent consultation is required initially because the treatment is given in stages. When a certain regimen fails to provide relief, a higher regimen is initiated till the patient is stabilised. Hence, regular visits are compulsory.
Is there a permanent cure for asthma?
- No, there is no proven cure for asthma; the only remedy is to prevent attacks or exacerbation of the asthma by following the prescribed course of medicine.
Is asthma life threatening?
- If proper medication and intervention is not followed, a severe attack of asthma, called “status asthmaticus” can be life threatening.
What restrictions are to be followed in asthma?
- There are no restrictions in asthmatics other than limitation of exposure to triggers that may precipitate an asthmatic episode. Living environment must be made asthma –friendly, free of dust, pollen, animal dander etc. Inhaler must be kept handy at all times.
Can an asthmatic patient live a normal life?
- A patient of asthma has to live with it his or her whole life, but with proper management and compliance to treatment they can lead a normal life with minimal restrictions.
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