Asthma: Causes, Prevention And Treatment
Posted On: March 15, 2020
Asthma is a condition where the airways become narrow and swollen. The airways produce extra mucus. Mucus can cause breathing difficulties and trigger coughing. For some people, this condition is just a minor nuisance. It is good to know that the discovery of asthma as an acute respiratory disorder began in 400BC. The word Asthma was first coined by Hippocrates. He used this term in his popular book named Corpus Hippocratocum. Also, Hippocrates provided a clear definition of the medical term.
During his discovery, Hippocrates linked asthma symptoms to environmental triggers. In his research, the well-known scientist suggested that the most reliable remedy was drinking a mixture of blood and wine. Another Greek physician composed a detailed definition of this condition in 100 A.C. It was very similar to the modern understanding of how asthma develops.
More than 30 million people in the United States of America are suffering from this condition. About 8 million of these are children. The World Health Organization has estimated that this number might increase with over 60 percent in the next few years. Since 1980, the number of deaths has been doubling year by year. Medical figures have been aware of this condition since ancient Greece.
Being a complicated disease, it is good to understand the symptoms, causes, types, treatment and prevention of asthma. You must carefully monitor your disease. In this article, we will take a look at the most crucial things you should know about asthma.
Types of asthma
Asthma is known to occur in numerous different ways and for multiple different reasons. Understanding each type of asthma will arguably make you feel better if you have been diagnosed with this condition. You will feel informed about how you can manage asthma. At times, it can be a hard task knowing which type of asthma you have. The main reason behind this is that many people experience asthma in different ways. This makes it difficult to put asthma into exact categories. Most types of asthma are managed in the same way.
The sections below list the most common types of asthma.
- Allergic asthma – This type of asthma is triggered by allergens. Pollen, pets and dust mites are the most notorious allergens as for now. You might be aware that many people who are suffering from allergic asthma have a closely related condition like fever and food allergies. Many doctors prefer prescribing a preventer inhaler to people who are suffering from allergic asthma. You can either use a preventer inhaler every day or a reliever inhaler when you have clear asthma symptoms.
- Seasonal asthma – It might not be common, but some people have asthma that only flares up at certain times of the year. This can either happen during the hay fever season or when it is cold. Asthma is a long term condition. With that in mind, it is very possible to stay symptom-free when your triggers are not around. All that you need to do is to take asthma medicines during the season when your asthma bothers.
- Occupational asthma – As its name dictates, this type of asthma is caused by the work you do. You might be suffering from occupational asthma if your asthma symptoms improve when you are not at work. It is one of the most dangerous types of asthma. You might be allergic to flour dust if you work in a bakery. Also, you can have asthma if you work in healthcare. It is advisable to book an appointment with an experienced medical doctor if you think you have occupational asthma.
- Non-allergic asthma – This type of asthma is not related to allergy triggers such as pollen and dust. In fact, this condition is less common when compared to allergic asthma. The main causes of non-allergic asthma are yet to be understood. In most cases, this condition develops later in life. In such cases, it can be more severe.
- Exercise-induced asthma. Scientific research has proved that indeed exercise can trigger asthma. You should consult from experienced asthma doctors to know what types of exercises you should avoid.
- Difficult asthma – This type of asthma has been gaining a lot of popularity for the last couple of years. People who have asthma might be suffering from what is popularly called difficult asthma. Sometimes, it is very difficult to manage this condition due to other health issues you have. At some instances, you may be having trouble remembering to take your preventer medicine.
It is good to find the perfect combination of asthma medicines if you are finding it difficult to control this condition. In the end, you might be required to find advice from an asthma specialist.
- Severe asthma. More than 5% of people who are suffering from asthma have what’s known as severe asthma. The best way to diagnose this condition is by visiting a specialist asthma clinic.
Causes of asthma
We are yet to know what exactly causes asthma. Probably, this condition is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. There are several triggers that have been associated with asthma. Regular exposure to various irritants and substances can trigger signs and symptoms of asthma. These triggers include:
- Airborne substances such as dust mites and pollen.
- Air pollutants.
- Strong emotions.
- Physical activity.
Risk factors associated with asthma
There are several factors that are thought to increase the chances of developing asthma. Let’s take a close look at some of these factors.
- You have a relative who has been suffering from asthma.
- You are overweight.
- You are a regular smoker.
- You are constantly exposed to secondhand smoke.
- You often come into contact with exhaust fumes and other types of pollution.
- There are harmful triggers such as chemicals in your farm.
Symptoms of asthma
The specific type of asthma determines the symptoms you will experience. It is good to know that not everyone with asthma will experience these particular signs. You should book an appointment to see your doctor if you notice a sign that is closely associated with asthma. These are the commonest symptoms of asthma.
- Rapid movement of air in the lungs cause waves called breath sounds when you breathe in and out. When you breathe in, your normal lung patterns should be bigger. Change in lung sounds has been known to indicate numerous things. It can be a cause of concern when they are high pitched. Normally, highly pitched wheezes means that airways are smaller in size than normal.
- Tightness in the chest. If you have ever experienced tightening in the chest, you can agree with me that you thought you were suffering from a heart attack. Pulmonary conditions and psychological conditions are the major causes of a tight chest. You are supposed to see a doctor immediately you suspect you are having a heart attack. Cold sweating, pain that lasts for several minutes and burning are some of the signs of tightness in the chest.
- Shortness of breath. You will constantly struggle to draw full breath when you have this condition. In most cases, you will feel like you have just run a short race or taken an aerobics class. You will experience this more so if you like exercising regularly.
Diagnosis of asthma
Similar to other common diseases, there are numerous ways of diagnosing asthma.
- Physical exam. Doctors recommend a physical exam to rule out possible conditions such as COPD. In this test, he or she will ask questions about the signs and symptoms.
Tests to measure lung function
Although it depends on your condition, you may also be given lung function tests. Such tests are used to determine how much air moves in and out as you breathe. Peak flow is the most reliable test.
Other tests that can be used to diagnose asthma include:
- Imaging tests.
- Nitric oxide test.
- Allergy testing.
Treatment of asthma
This is the right time to familiarize yourself with the most effective treatments if you or your loved one is suffering from asthma. Understanding these treatments options will be of great help when managing asthma symptoms. Here are the most used treatments options.
- Combination of quick-relief medicines.
- Oral corticosteroids.
- Short-acting beta-agonists.
Prevention of asthma
While there is no cure for asthma, you can take the following tips to prevent the deadly condition.
- Prevent colds.
- Avoid smoke of any type.
- Stay away from allergens.
- Allergy proof your home.
- Get your vaccinations.
You should have an asthma management plan if you are suffering from asthma. An asthma management plan can either be developed by the patient or by a doctor. You can use a rescue inhaler in case you suspect to have asthma symptoms. If the symptoms are worsening day by day, it would be better if you look for reliable medical evaluation. Oral steroids and maintenance therapy will be necessary.
Emergency medical care can be a perfect alternative if the symptoms progress rapidly.