What Is Asthma?
Asthma, a condition that frequently affects the youth, has negative influences on the lungs. Although children are often the victims, adults can also suffer from the disease as well. Some of the major symptoms of asthma include coughing (especially at night or in the morning), wheezing, tightness in the chest, breathlessness, and wheezing. Victims of asthma are classified as asthmatics regardless of how often they suffer from the symptoms. Luckily, asthma attacks only occur when the lungs react to a foreign allergen.
Generally, doctors are unable to determine the causes of asthma. Additionally, asthma is a genetic disease that can be passed down through families.
Asthma victims can take hold of the disease if they know what to look for and are aware of the triggers that cause asthma symptoms to arise. They should be able to recognize the rising symptoms of an asthma attack. Those who take hold of their asthma:
• Will avoid wheezing, coughing, or other uncomfortable symptoms
• Will have less trouble sleeping
• Will prevent possible work and school absences
• Will be able to be as active as they would like, and
• Will not have to be rushed to the emergency room (as a result of a serious attack)
How is Asthma Diagnosed?
It is important for all people (in particular, children) to go to the doctor for physical examinations. Doctors can examine the lungs and test for possible allergies that could be causing the symptoms of asthma. Sometimes, asthma is difficult to spot, and doctors are able to make a more accurate diagnosis if they are able to examine their patients regularly. This is particularly crucial for very young children.
What can you expect to experience during your examination? If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of asthma, be sure to mention them to your doctor. He or she will likely ask you a serious of questions to help with the diagnosis. You may be asked about lingering colds, chest tightness, symptoms or other asthma-related issues with family members, and whether you have experience seasonal allergies. Furthermore, the doctor may ask about whether physical fitness influences your difficulty with breathing, whether you have had to stay home from work, or whether there are particular activities that tend to trigger your symptoms.
A spirometry (spy-rom-e-tree) can be used to help determine whether a patient has asthma. Patients are asked to breathe out as heavily as possible into the device so that their air flow can be measured. This test may be conducted at the initial checkup and then redone after the patient is medicated.
What is an Asthma Attack?
When patients experience an asthma attack, their bodies literally change in correlation with their symptoms. The airways connected to the lungs narrow in reaction to whatever is stimulating the attack. This makes it much more difficult for the sufferer to breathe. As the airways become smaller, the sides of the air tubes also grow bigger in reaction to the stimulant. Furthermore, the body naturally creates mucus within the air tubes, and this mucus also interferes with regular breathing. All of these causes together produce symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and difficulty with breathing. This is called an asthma attack, but it can also be referred to as an episode.
What Causes an Asthma Attack?
Certain stimulants that bother the body’s natural system can cause asthma attacks. These can also be referred to as asthma triggers. Some examples of possible stimulants include dust or smoke from cigarettes.
Compliments of Kshamica Nimalasuriya MD, MPH
Preventive Medicine & Public Health