Roughly 25 million Americans have asthma. It is also the leading chronic disease in children. Currently, there are about 5.1 million children under the age of 18 with asthma.1 Better understanding this condition allows for more effective management and treatment of the condition.
What is Asthma? – A Chronic Respiratory Disorder
Asthma is a respiratory condition in which the airway becomes swollen and narrowed, creating extra mucus, making it difficult to breathe. It is a chronic illness, meaning people with this disorder live with it every day. Although having this condition is common in many people, knowing the symptoms and how to manage this condition is very important.
Allergens or other irritants to the lungs can trigger an asthma attack. While there is no cure for the condition, there are preventive measures and treatments.
What are the Causes of Asthma Symptoms?
Asthma symptoms are caused by inflammation and narrowing of the lungs airways. The amalgamation of inflammation and narrowing of the muscles in the airways of the lungs make the person difficult to breath. During an asthma attack the narrowing of the airways by producing mucuses make the airways more narrower and this cause asthma symptom.
What Triggers Asthma Symptoms?
There are two types of “triggers”: allergic and non-allergic. The allergic triggers are:
The non-allergic triggers are:
What Are the Common Symptoms of Asthma?
A person suffering from an asthma attack will experience difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. These symptoms can sometimes flare up at night or while exercising.
If left untreated, a severe asthma attack can be deadly. On average, ten Americans die from this respiratory disorder each day, so it’s important to see a doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
How Do Doctors Diagnose It?
The apparent symptoms alone make it easy for doctors to diagnose a case of asthma. Doctors may also conduct lung function tests to confirm the diagnosis. Most cases of asthma are diagnosed in childhood when symptoms start to appear. A few other tests are also used by doctors to determine the progress of treatment:
Pulmonary Function Tests
This test is a complete evaluation of a person’s respiratory system, including physical evaluations, medical history, and more. It measures your breathing and is usually done before and after you inhale a bronchodilator, a medication that opens your airways.
This test is the most common of the pulmonary function tests. It requires you to take a deep breath, then blow air out of your lungs and into a mouthpiece as fast and hard as you can. This measures how much air you can inhale and exhale, as well as how fast you can exhale, and is helpful for doctors to determine a person’s breathing patterns. The test gauges overall lung function.
How Do You Treat Asthma?
Treating this condition no matter its mildness or severity is very important. There are a few options for patients for treatment:
- Medication. Bronchodilators, steroids, and anti-inflammatory medications all help reduce the severity of asthma attacks. Bronchodilators keep the airways open during an attack. Steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs reduce airway swelling.
- Self-care. Taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to help prevent an asthma attack. Avoid smoking and other airborne irritants, which can trigger an attack.
- Oxygen therapy. The use of supplemental oxygen helps keep the airway open and can be done at home by anyone who feels an attack coming on. Oxygen concentrators are an ideal option for safe home oxygen therapy.
Who Are More Prone to Asthma?
Between 8% to 10% of population are suffering from asthma in more or less every parts of the world. Asthma can develop in children or at any age. People with allergies, or eczema are more prone to develop asthma. Every person has different kinds of symptoms, but one of the common symptom is wheeping. There are many other symptoms as discussed above.
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- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Asthma Facts and Figures.