Asthma is a chronic disease that blocks the airways of the lungs and makes one’s breathing difficult. It is a serious and lifelong disease. In general, asthma manifests itself in attacks and has been characterized by wheezing, cough, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.
Like various diseases and infections, the incidence rate of asthma also has increased worldwide in recent decades. Even though one can develop this disease at any age, 1 in third all asthma patients develop this disease in childhood.
According to the World Health Organisation: asthma affects more than 340 million people and is the most common chronic disease among children worldwide. Furthermore, according to another report; there are more than 25 million people with this disease only in America.
Some people’s airways of the lung are susceptible to certain environmental factors. When the patient encounters the triggering factors, the muscles in the airways contract and make the body to produce more mucus which acts as a protective and lubricating layer, as a response to these triggering factors. As a result of the increased mucus secretion, the airways of the lungs narrow and cause breathing difficulties.
The exact cause of asthma is not known. Certain factors such as dust, smell, smoke and pollens are thought to irritate the airways of the lungs of people with asthma. As a result of narrowed airways, breathing problems start.
Despite the fact that the exact cause of asthma is not known, doctors have determined the main risk factors that are thought to bring about the development of asthma.
• Having a family history of asthma
° Being exposed to smoke as a child
• Being exposed to allergens as a child
° Tobacco use of the mother in the pregnancy period
• Experiencing a serious lung disease as a child
° Being exposed to intense tobacco smoke
• Living an environment with a poor air quality
°Certain occupations involving dust and chemicals
As mentioned above, typical symptoms for this inflammatory disease are; cough, shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness in the chest. However, these symptoms may emerge as a result of totally different disease or health problem. Therefore, other determining factors are taken into account by the doctor.
For instance; if the symptoms occur mostly at night and in the morning, after the exposure to some allergen substances or right after an exercise, then the presence of the disease becomes almost certain. Furthermore, if the symptoms are repetitive, it facilitates the diagnosis of asthma.
Symptoms may go away on their own or can be severe enough to require hospitalization. Cough is usually dry and without mucus in this inflammatory disease. Moreover, whistling sound can be heard while breathing in and out.
The physician/doctor evaluates the complaints and the symptoms of the patient. The above-given symptoms will significantly ease the diagnosis of asthma. Additionally, the physician will make a physical exam.
In order to absolutise the presence of inflammatory disease; lung function tests, chest x-ray and blood test may require.
In such allergic diseases, early diagnosis is important to prevent the disease from transitioning to an advance level.
Asthma Triggering Factors
Identifying the triggering factors and eliminating them accordingly is an effective way to minimise asthma attacks. However, something that triggers asthma for an asthma patient may not affect another patient with the same disease.
According to CDC ( Centers for Disease Control and Prevention); the followings are the common triggers for the attacks.
• Tobacco Smoke ( both smoking and secondhand tobacco)
° Dust Mites ( found in many homes )
• Outdoor Air Pollution
° Breathing Mold or Chemicals
° Colds, flu, acid reflux
° Physical exercise
° Strong emotions
Treatment of Asthma
As there is no cure for other allergic diseases, there is no definitive treatment for asthma too. However, it can be almost completely controlled with early diagnosis and good treatment.
The aim of the treatment is to provide the patient with a life with no or minimal complaints. When determining the treatment of asthma, the physician also takes into account the severity of the disease.
In the treatment, it is important that the patient has enough knowledge about the disease. In this way, the patient can protect him/herself against allergens to which he is sensitive. Equally important, asthma attacks can be minimised as long as the drugs, given by the doctor, are used regularly.
Moreover, the doctor can recommend some modification in the lifestyle of the patient to minimise the risk of asthma attacks. The following may help to prevent asthma.
• Quitting tobacco
° Avoiding dusty and mouldy environments
• Avoiding chemical fragrances
° Doing most suitable exercises
• Getting flu shot
° Regularly cleaning bed sheets
• Ventilating home environment
Tarkan is an experienced health writer ( currently more than 600 articles ) and also the founder of this website namely www.neededforhealth.com. His expertise in health stems from in-depth medical research and knowledge which he obtained over the course of many years.
Tarkan enjoys sharing factual knowledge on health, psychology and nutrition. He always aims to deliver evidence-based recommendations, provide links to related scientific studies.