Asthma is a chronic condition of the Bronchial tubes. It causes whistling and difficulty in breathing. Some triggers include exposure to allergens or irritable causes, viruses, exercise, emotional stress and other factors.
During an asthma attack, the bronchial tubes will swell, the surrounding muscles will tighten, and it becomes difficult for the air to move and get out of the lungs.
About 7.9% of people in the United States developed asthma in 2017. There are many types of asthma, and many factors can cause asthma or lead to a severe seizure.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a long-term condition that affects the bronchial tubes. Involves inflammation and narrowing inside the lungs, which restricts air flow. An asthmatic person may suffer from:
- Tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Severe cough
- Increased mucus production
An asthma attack occurs when symptoms become severe. Attacks can start suddenly and range from mild to life-threatening.
In some cases, swelling in the bronchial tubes can prevent oxygen from reaching the lungs. This means that oxygen cannot enter the bloodstream or reach vital organs. Therefore, people with severe symptoms need urgent medical attention.
Your doctor can prescribe appropriate treatments and advise someone on the best ways to manage asthma symptoms.
Types of asthma
Asthma can occur in many different ways and for many different reasons, but the triggers are often the same. They include virus-borne contaminants, viruses, pet dander and cigarette smoke. The sections below list some common types of asthma:
Asthma is the most common chronic condition in children. It can develop at any age, but it is more common in children than in adults.
In 2017, children aged 5-14 years were more likely to develop this condition. In this age group, the condition affected 9.7% of people. It also affected 4.4% of children between the ages of 0 and 4 years. In the same year, this condition affected 7.7% of people aged 18 years and older.
According to the American Lung Association, some common triggers for childhood asthma include:
- Respiratory infections and colds
- Cigarette smoke
- Air pollutants, including ozone pollution, both at home and abroad
- Exposure to cold air
- Sudden temperature changes
- Nerve pressure
It is necessary to seek medical attention if the child begins to suffer from asthma, where it can be life-threatening. Your doctor can advise on some of the best ways to manage the condition.
In some cases, asthma may improve as the child reaches adulthood. For many people, it is a lifelong condition.
Asthma in adults
Asthma can develop at any age, including during adulthood. According to a study conducted in 2013, adults are more likely than children to develop persistent symptoms.
Some factors that affect the risk of developing this condition in adulthood include:
- Respiratory diseases
- Allergies and exposure to allergens
- Hormonal factors
Occupational asthma is caused by exposure to allergens or irritants found in the workplace. In the following workplaces, allergens may cause this condition in people with allergies:
- Bakeries, flour mills and kitchens
- Hospitals and other healthcare facilities
- Pet shops, zoos and laboratories where animals are located
- Farms and other agricultural establishments
In the following professions, irritants can cause asthma symptoms:
- Repairing and manufacturing cars
- Engineering and metal works
- Woodwork and carpentry
- Electronics and Assembly Industries
- Hair salons
- Indoor swimming pools
The people most at risk are:
- Who have allergic rhinitis
- Who have a history of asthma or environmental allergies
- A person’s working environment can lead to a resurgence of childhood asthma or the onset of asthma in adults.
It’s hard to control severe asthma attacks. Research indicates that about 5-10% of asthmatics suffer from severe asthma.
Some people have severe symptoms for reasons not directly related to asthma. For example, they probably haven’t yet learned the right way to use an inhaler.
Others suffer from severe thermal asthma. In these cases, asthma does not respond to treatment – even with high doses of medications or proper use of inhalers. This type of asthma can affect 3.6% of people with the condition, according to a 2015 study.
Eosinophilic asthma is another type of asthma that, in severe cases, may not respond to the usual medications. Although some people with eosinophilic asthma take standard asthma medications, others may benefit from specific ‘biological’ treatments. One type of biological drug reduces the number of eosinophils, a type of blood cell involved in an allergic reaction that can lead to asthma.
This type of asthma occurs in response to allergens found only in the surrounding environment at certain times of the year. For example, cold air in winter or pollen in spring or summer may cause seasonal asthma symptoms.
People with seasonal asthma still suffer from the disease for the rest of the year, but they usually do not suffer from symptoms. However, it does not always stem from allergies.
Causes and triggers
Health professionals do not know exactly the causes of asthma, but genetic and environmental factors seem to play important roles.
Some factors, such as allergies to asthma, may be causes and triggers. The sections below list some of the other sections:
Pregnancy: According to one study, smoking during pregnancy appears to increase the risk of asthma in the fetus later in life. Some women also experience worsening asthma symptoms during pregnancy.
Obesity: An article from 2014 suggested that there appear to be higher levels of asthma in obese people than those who do not. The authors noted that in one study, obese children who lost weight also experienced an improvement in asthma symptoms.
There is now a growing body of evidence suggesting that both cases involve a chronic inflammatory response, which could explain the relationship.
Allergies: Allergies develop when a person’s body becomes sensitive to a particular substance. Once the allergic reaction is performed, the person is prone to an allergic reaction every time he touches the substance.
Not everyone with asthma has an allergy, but there is often a link. In people with allergies, exposure to specific allergens can lead to symptoms.
A 2013 study found that 60-80% of children and young people with asthma are at least allergic to allergens.
Tobacco smoking: Smoking cigarettes can lead to its symptoms, according to the American Lung Association. Asthma, even without smoking, can damage the lungs. This can increase the risk of various tobacco-related lung diseases, such as COPD, and can make symptoms more severe.
Environmental factors: Air pollution, both inside and outside the home, can affect the development and formation of its tics.
Stress: Stress can lead to symptoms, but it can lead to many other emotions. Joy, anger, excitement, laughter, crying and other emotional reactions can all lead to an asthma attack.
Scientists have also found evidence suggesting that it may be more likely in people with mental health problems such as depression. Others have suggested that long-term stress may lead to genetic changes leading to chronic asthma.
Genetic factors: There is evidence to suggest that it spreads in families. Recently, scientists have drawn some genetic changes that may play a role in their development. In some cases, genetic changes are responsible. These occur when an environmental factor changes the gene.
Hormonal factors: about 5.5% of males and 9.7% of females suffer from asthma. In addition, symptoms may vary according to female reproductive stage and point in the menstrual cycle. For example, during the years of reproduction, symptoms may worsen during menstruation, compared to other times of the month. Doctors call this asthma around the menstrual cycle. During menopause, asthma symptoms may improve. Some scientists believe that hormonal activity may affect immune activity, leading to hypersensitivity in the bronchi.
People with intermittent asthma may also experience symptoms only for a while.
The doctor will ask the person about the patient’s symptoms, his family’s medical history, and his personal medical history. They will also perform a physical exam and may perform other tests. He or she will also notice whether asthma is mild, intermittent, moderate or severe. They’ll also try to determine the type. People can keep a record of their symptoms and possible triggers to help their doctor make an accurate diagnosis. This should include information about potential irritants in the workplace.
The sections below discuss some other tests that your doctor may perform to help diagnose asthma:
The doctor will focus on the upper respiratory tract, chest and skin. They will listen to sizzling signs, which can indicate obstructive bronchial tubes and asthma.
They will also check:
- Runny nose
- Swelling of the nasal passages
- Any growths inside the nose
- They will also examine the skin for signs of eczema and others.
Your doctor may also perform a lung function test to assess how well the lungs work. A breath measurement test is an example of a lung function test. The person will need to breathe deeply and then exhale vigorously into the tube. The tube is connected to a device called a respiratory meter, which shows how much air a person inhales and exhales and how quickly the air is expelled from the lungs. Your doctor will then compare these results with those of a person of the same age who does not have asthma.
To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may then give the patient a bronchodilator – to open the bronchial tubes and repeat the test. If these second results are better, a person may suffer from asthma.
This test may not be suitable for young children. Alternatively, your doctor may prescribe asthma medications for 4-6 weeks and monitor any changes in their symptoms.
Other diagnostic tests include:
Challenge Test: This test allows the doctor to assess how cold air or exercise affects a person’s breathing.
Tests to rule out other conditions: Sputum, X-rays and other tests can help rule out sinusitis, bronchitis and other conditions that can affect a person’s breathing.
What to do when having an asthma attack?
The following procedures can help manage the seizure and reduce its severity:
- Sit straight and try to stay calm. Don’t lie down.
- Take one puff of inhaler or rescue device every 30 to 60 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 puffs.
- If symptoms worsen or do not improve after 10 puffs, seek emergency medical care.
- If help access takes more than 15 minutes, repeat the second step.
- Asthma attacks are likely to threaten life. So, ask for help if you don’t feel better.