Asthma is a respiratory condition, which involves spasms in the bronhi of the lungs, leading to difficulty in breathing.
Factors that trigger asthma include airborne allergens like mold, pollens, animal dander, coackroaches, cold air, physical exertion, air pollutants and irritants like smoke and smog, respiratory infections like common colds and cough, certain medications like beta blockers and ibuprofen, preservatives added to certain kinds of food and beverages, backing up of stomach acids into the throat (gastroesophageal reflux disease), strong emotions, among others. Asthma triggers vary from one person to another, as per Mayo Clinic.
According to the data in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 12 people, which is about 25 million or 8 percent of the population in the United States, had asthma in 2011. About one in two people or nearly 12 million with asthma had an attack in 2008; however, most attacks could have been avoided. In addition, ten percent in children had asthma while eight percent in adults had the attack in 2009. It is also noted that women were predisposed to asthma than men; however, boys are more prone to the disorder than girls.
In an asthma attack, the muscles around the airways are tightened. The lining of the airways also becomes inflamed or swollen, not to mention that the amount of mucus produced by the body is more than usual, as per Web MD.
The symptoms may shift from mild to severe, which may require urgent medical attention. According to American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the most common symptoms of asthma include coughing, which is higher in intensity at night, during exercise or when laughing; shortness of breath; chest tightness; and wheezing, which is a whistling or squeaky sound in the chest upon exhaling.
According to Web MD, other warning signs of asthma include runny or stuffy nose; sore throat; fatigue and weakness, especially during exercise; and trouble sleeping. Some warning signs of asthma are more serious and should not be taken lightly. These incude difficulty breathing or talking, sucking in the chest or stomach with each breath, difficulty walking, and a bluish or gray tinge to the lips or fingernails. The latter is called cyanosis, which implies hypoxia, the reduced oxygen level in the blood.
Asthma is a chronic disease that has no current cure, according to National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. however, its symptoms can be controlled. The aims of asthma treatment include the prevention the occurrence of symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath; reduction of the need for quick-relief agents, maintaining one’s usual activities of daily living, maintainance of good lung function, nd prevention of asthma attacks of moderate to severe nature, which could lead to a hospital room visit or stay.
Asthma is treated with two kinds of agents, the long-term control and quick-relief medications. Long-term medications aid in the reduction of the inflammation in the airways, preventing asthma symptoms. On the other hand, quick-relief medications are fast-acting or “rescue” medications that relieve the symptoms of an asthma attack. Medications may be increased by physicians if the attack cannot be managed in lower doses. According to National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute., the initial phase of asthma treatment is at par with the severity of the asthma while the follow-up asthma treatment is dependent to the efficiency of the action plan to intervene and control the asthma symptoms and prevent future asthma attacks.
With the aforementioned warning signs, it is important to coordinate with one’s doctor to give resolution to other medical conditions that can adversely affect asthma management.