Asthma – Symptoms, Causes, Types, Preventions, and Treatments

asthma symptoms, causes, treatments, and preventions
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Asthma is a common chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows your airways. These airways can swell, become clogged with mucus, and make it hard to breathe.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, every one in thirteen Americans has asthma. It means around 25 million Americans have been diagnosed with this breathing illness.

What Causes Asthma?

It’s not clear what exactly causes asthma, but Asthma symptoms are usually triggered by factors like allergens (like pollen or pet dander), cold air, exercise, respiratory infections like colds or flu, or exposure to strong chemicals.

In some cases, though, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious trigger. Your risk of getting asthma goes up if you have a family history of allergies live in a polluted area, smoke cigarettes, have been around secondhand smoke, or have been exposed to lots of air pollution.

What Are the Asthma Symptoms?

Asthma symptoms can include wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, coughing, and/or trouble breathing.

If you have asthma, you may feel like your chest is tight or you’re out of breath even if you don’t have an infection or other obvious cause for these symptoms.

People with asthma are more likely to have sudden flare-ups called exacerbations that can last a few days or weeks. They might end up in the emergency room because they’re having trouble breathing.

Treatment Options for Asthma

Asthma treatments vary depending on how severe your condition is. The best plan will also depend on other health problems you may be suffering from and the medicines you’ve tried before.

There is no cure for asthma. But your doctor can help you manage your asthma symptoms and decrease flare-ups by prescribing medications like bronchodilators (inhalers or injections that open up air passages), anti-inflammatory medicines, and corticosteroids (inhaled drugs that suppress inflammation).

You may also need to use a rescue inhaler more often. Your doctor might also recommend allergy shots to reduce the severity of asthma attacks.

Why is Asthma More Common in Kids?

Asthma affects around 300 million people worldwide with current trends that more children than adults are being diagnosed with Asthma.

This could be because Asthma in children has been underdiagnosed due to recent changes in Asthma diagnosis guidelines, which now only request the presence of wheezing to diagnose Asthma in children instead of respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath or coughing.

Types of Asthma

The two most common types of Asthma are extrinsic asthma (extrinsic type) and intrinsic asthma (intrinsic type).

Extrinsic Asthma is Asthma caused by environmental triggers. Extrinsic Asthma triggers include allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander; respiratory infections such as the common cold or flu; temperature changes that irritate the throat or lungs; and exercise.

Intrinsic Asthma is Asthma caused by factors within the body itself, most commonly caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Intrinsic Asthmatics experience more severe Asthmatic symptoms than extrinsic Asthmatics do–it can cause chest tightness, shortness of breath (very similar to extrinsic Asthmatics).

What Can I Do About Asthma?

If you have asthma, you can help prevent flare-ups by avoiding triggers when possible. If your doctor has diagnosed pollen allergies, for example, you should probably try to steer clear of pollen in dusty or smoggy places.

You should also be sure to get your flu and pneumonia shots every year since these conditions can cause asthma attacks or make them worse.

Also, try to stay away from cigarette smoke, which can worsen asthma symptoms in both kids and adults. It’s a good idea to avoid secondhand smoke anyway if you don’t want to expose yourself to the harmful chemicals that come with lighting up a cigarette.

Not only does smoking irritate airways, but it also makes it harder for people who have asthma to breathe normally. If you live in an area where there’s a lot of outdoor pollution, wear a mask when you go outside if possible.

How Do I Talk With My Doctor About Asthma?

If you think your asthma medication is working well for you, tell your doctor. He or she will probably want to keep prescribing it as long as you need it.

But if you find yourself getting out of breath too easily, have a hard time catching your breath, or feel like your meds aren’t doing anything anymore, talk with your doc about these symptoms and whether the medicine might need to be changed

If you think that asthma may be affecting your quality of life significantly, ask your doctor about other treatments. For example, bronchodilators can prevent attacks in some people, but they don’t work for everyone.

Inhaled corticosteroids have been shown to help reduce inflammation in the airways and limit flare-ups. You might also hear about a treatment called pulmonary rehabilitation, which can help you learn how to handle the physical challenges of the disease so you can lead as full a life as possible.

The Bottom Line

Asthma is a lung disorder that causes wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing spells. Symptoms are typically caused by breathing in something irritating, such as cigarette smoke or pollen. Avoiding triggers may be difficult, but it can prevent attacks and limit flare-ups.

If your asthma symptoms keep you from doing the activities you want and need to do and your medication isn’t working well anymore, talk with your doctor about other treatments like bronchodilators or inhaled corticosteroids.

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