A condition in which a person’s airways become inflamed, narrow and swell and produce extra mucus, which makes it difficult to breathe.
Asthma can be minor or it can interfere with daily activities. In some cases, it may lead to a life-threatening attack.
Asthma is a common chronic disease worldwide and affects approximately 26 million persons in the United States. It is the most common chronic disease in childhood, affecting an estimated 7 million children. The pathophysiology of asthma is complex and involves airway inflammation, intermittent airflow obstruction, and bronchial hyperresponsiveness.
Types of Asthma
If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, understanding which type you have can help you feel better informed about how to manage it. But it can be difficult to know which type of asthma you have.
- Adult-Onset Asthma.
- Allergic Asthma.
- Asthma-COPD Overlap.
- Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB)
- Nonallergic Asthma.
- Occupational Asthma.
Causes of Asthma
It isn’t clear why some people get asthma and others don’t, but it’s probably due to a combination of environmental and inherited (genetic) factors.
- Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
- Physical activity
- Cold air
- Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke
- Airborne allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander or particles of cockroach waste
- Certain medications, including beta blockers, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve)
- Strong emotions and stress
- Sulfites and preservatives added to some types of foods and beverages, including shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, beer and wine
- Family history of allergic conditions
Symptoms and Sign of Asthma
The classic signs and symptoms of asthma are shortness of breath, cough (often worse at night).
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. You may have infrequent asthma attacks, have symptoms only at certain times — such as when exercising — or have symptoms all the time.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Wheezing when exhaling, which is a common sign of asthma in children
- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
- Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu
Any time you are seeing this kind of symptoms kindly see your doctor.
Effects of Asthma in the body
Asthma is a disease that affects the airways of your lungs. With asthma, your airways’ lining tends to always be in a hypersensitive state characterized by redness and swelling (inflammation).
1. Airway Remodeling
Poor asthma management can lead to airway remodeling. Airway remodeling is a serious condition that happens when asthma is untreated or poorly managed. The lungs become scarred, asthma medicines do not work as well and less air is able to move through your airways.
2. Asthma Flare-Ups
When you experience a trigger, the insides of your airways swell even more. This narrows the space for air to move in and out of the lungs. The muscles that wrap around your airways also can tighten, making breathing even harder. When that happens, it’s called an asthma flare-up, asthma episode or asthma “attack.”
While there’s no way to prevent asthma, you and your doctor can design a step-by-step plan for living with your condition and preventing asthma attacks.
Follow your asthma action plan.
Identify and avoid asthma triggers.
Get vaccinated for influenza and pneumonia.
Monitor your breathing.
Identify and treat attacks early.
Take your medication as prescribed.
Treatment option for Asthma
The treatment goals for asthma are to:
- adequately control symptoms,
- minimize the risk of future exacerbations,
- maintain normal lung function,
- maintain normal activity levels, and
- take the least amount of medication possible with the least amount of potential side effects.
Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are the most effective anti-inflammatory agents available for the chronic treatment of asthma and are first-line therapy per most asthma guidelines.