All you need to know about asthma
The important facts
Asthma is a condition that affects the lungs, causing your airways to narrow and swell, and produce extra mucus. These changes contribute to the common asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath. Asthma can vary from minor to extremely severe and can be life threatening.
Since asthma affects everyone differently, the symptoms vary as well. Some people may experience symptoms very rarely, others during exercise, and some may be experiencing symptoms constantly. The three types of asthma include exercise-induced, occupational asthma (triggered by inhaled irritants or pollutants), and allergy-induced.
Most of the common symptoms to look for include shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, difficulty sleeping due to coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath, wheezing or whistling when exhaling, and coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by the common cold or flu. It’s important to watch for signs that your asthma may be worsening. These would include more frequent symptoms, increasing difficulty breathing, and having to use your rescue inhaler more often.
The actual cause of asthma is unknown, but it’s believed to be due to a mix of environmental and genetic factors. It’s important to understand what triggers your asthma to prevent a future attack. Some triggers include airborne allergens (pollen, dander, dust), allergic reactions to food, respiratory infections, physical activity, cold air, air pollutants (smoke), stress, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Besides asthma attacks, asthma can have a large impact on your daily life if left untreated. Symptoms could worsen and interfere with sleep, basic activities, work, or recreational activities. Having more asthma attacks could contribute to missing work or other important events. Untreated asthma can also lead to irreversible damage to the airways in your lungs. This would leave them permanently narrowed, which will affect how you breathe for the rest of your life.
How do you find out if you have asthma? The first thing to do is to see your primary physician and get a physical exam. He or she will determine if more testing is needed. Next, there are lung function tests, spirometry, that measure how much air you can breathe in and out and hold in your lungs in one breath. This also helps leads to a diagnosis because those with asthma do not have the normal lung capacity a healthy person would.
Since there is no cure, it’s important to stay on top of treatments to keep asthma attacks at bay. There are long-term and short-term medications to manage the different aspects and symptoms of asthma. Long-term medications help control your asthma on a day-to-day basis. They do this by reducing the swelling of your airways to prevent future attacks. The short-term medications are commonly referred to as rescue inhalers, and are used during an asthma attack. These medications work by dilating your airways quickly and allowing oxygen to get to the lungs and easing symptoms. It also helps to relax the muscle, which makes it easier to breathe as well. Without the use of both of these medications, your asthma could significantly worsen.
Even with the use of these medications, lifestyle changes can also have a significant impact on managing your asthma. Here are some helpful tips to think about. First, avoid the triggers can lead to the development of worsening of asthma symptoms. Cleaning your home regularly reduced the about of dust, dander, and pollen build up. Staying healthy is also key. Eating a healthy and balanced diet (fruits and vegetables), exercising regularly, and maintaining an optimal body weight will all help to improve your asthma symptoms.