What is Asthma?

Asthma is a common disease that affects a sizeable population of every country. With increasing air pollution, the number of people diagnosed with asthma has increased considerably.

In the U.S., there are currently around 18.7 million people with asthma, which includes 8% of the adult population within the country. 5.4 million people in the U.K. are affected by Asthma, which means there is someone effected with asthma in every five household. Worldwide, it effects more than 235 million people today.

AsthmaAccording to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, more than 25 million people in the United States of America suffer from this condition (among which, roughly 7 million are children).

Asthma is characterized by certain symptoms, which include wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath.

How Does Asthma Effect You?

Having asthma signifies that one’s airways are inflamed causing an obstruction in proper breathing.

The swelling or inflammation of the airways causes lesser air to pass than what is required by the body. As a result, it is also possible that excessive mucus production may obstruct the air.

What causes Asthma?

Asthma attacks are commonly triggered by the inhalation of various substances such as smoke, intoxicants in the air, consumption of high-cholesterol or carbohydrate food items, and cigarette smoking.

Asthma attacks usually occur without any prior indication and the most commonly used equipment to provide temporary relief to patients suffering from an asthma attack are inhalers.

The attack at times may be a mild one, requiring the use of inhalers and the exercise of proper breathing techniques, or it may even be a severe one that may require a person to the admitted to the hospital on an urgent basis.

Its causes include environmental causes, genetic causes, lifestyle choices (such as chain smoking) and medical conditions such as obesity and exacerbation. People who are living in an environment with high pollution – which mostly includes urban cities – often have higher chances to develop Asthma.

It’s been noticed that children who are living in an urban population in crowded neighborhoods often have higher rates of asthma as well.

Common Symptoms

One of the most common symptoms of asthma is coughing at certain crucial moments such as physically strenuous exercise or laughing/crying.

Furthermore, if a person regularly experiences shortness of breath, whether during mild physical activity or at rest, it may be a strong indication of the prevalence of asthma.

Tightness in the chest, which essentially feels like a band being tied to the chest, is also one of the common symptoms of Asthma.

Wheezing, which is a noise produced from the lungs upon breathing, although is not a certain sign of asthma (as it may be prevalent even in chain smokers), is one of the indicators of the existence of this condition.

If any of these symptoms is noticed in a person, it is strongly advisable to get a thorough medical check-up done for the condition to be diagnosed and treated.

One of the worries of any asthma patient is about asthma attacks. Asthma attacks are dangerous and can lead to serious consequences.

What happens during an Asthma Attack?

When an asthma attack is experienced, the simple condition being felt is that of shortness of breath. However, depending on the severity of the attack, a person may even be at a complete loss of breath as opposed to only partly not being able to breathe.

An asthma attack can develop over a period of several days but may also show up in persons who suffer from chronic asthma attacks without any prior strong indication.

How do you know whether you’ve got asthma?

Asthma can be measured using a decide called the peak flow meter, which essentially studies the obstruction being caused in the air passage.

Signs of a particularly severe attack include the inhaler is not being effective at all even upon multiple rounds of usage, severe wheezing or tightness in the chest to the point of inability to breathe, palpitation of the heart which is the excessively rapid beating of the heart, severe nausea and dizziness.

If any of these conditions is noticed, coupled with severe shortness of breath, it is a clear indication that the person suffering must urgently be taken to an ER at a nearby hospital or a clinic.

Diagnosis & Treatment

While there exists no precise test currently, which is medically accepted worldwide, to determine the existence of asthma in an individual, patterns of symptoms such as tightness in the chest, excessive wheezing and coughing and regularly feeling shortness of breath are considered to be one of the primary determining factors by medical practitioners.

One of the most used tests to determine the existence of asthma is spirometry, which determines the FEV1 levels in the human body (and the same being 12% or above is a strong indicator of the prevalence of asthma).

Methacoline challenge is also used to determine whether an individual may be suffering from asthma.

Can Asthma be cured?

Unfortunately, there does not exist any particular manner in which asthma can be reversed as a condition, preventive measures are considered to be the only cure. The good news, however, is that the prognosis of asthma in individuals is quite high and with the help of certain basic measures, the recurrent occurrence of asthma attacks can be prevented. These measures include:

  • Use of inhalers upon shortness of breath
  • Decreased or no use of smoking products such as cigarettes, or cigars
  • Decrease the consumption of caffeine
  • Working on proper breathing techniques to improve the efficiency of the air passages.

Apart from this, consumption of healthy foods and leading a healthy lifestyle goes a long way to making asthma patients live a normal life.

The regular intake of medicines if the same has been recommended by a medical practitioner, regularly tracking the level of asthma via the various equipment present and so on.