Asthma is a chronic condition of the respiratory system (lungs) in which a person’s air passages become inflamed, restricted, swollen, and produce a copious amount of mucus resulting in breathlessness, chest tightness, wheezing, and cough. Precisely it’s a common lung condition making airways sensitive and causing difficulty in breathing. It is also referred to as bronchial asthma. The condition worsens according to the amount of mucus produced as swelling of airways prevents oxygen from entering the lungs. As a result, oxygen doesn’t enter the bloodstream (called hypoxemia), and vital organs are deprived of oxygen.The causes of the disease involve genetic and environmental factors. In some people, several triggers initiate an allergic inflammatory response of the airways like pollen, dust mites, air pollution, smoke, stress, etc. The severity of the disease varies for everyone. Some people experience only minor attacks, while it can be extremely agonizing and even life-threatening for others. Several medicines are used to control the current symptoms and prevent future attacks. A person can lead a normal life by avoiding triggers and adhering strictly to the treatment regimes.
A combination of genetic and environmental factors is attributed to the cause of the disease. A series of inflammatory reactions are started in a genetically susceptible individual on exposure to triggers by the following proposed mechanisms; Bronchial hyperresponsiveness means hypersensitivity of air tubes to triggers causing airway inflammation resulting in Intermittent airflow obstruction. The triggers of asthma could be;
The national data on the prevalence of asthma in the United States, as given by the CDC, is about 5-10% of the population of approximately 23.4 million persons affected by Asthma. Children are most commonly affected by asthma; however, it is also found more in older adults and middle-aged females. The disease is more severe in African Americans as compared to whites.Asthma causes significant national burdens by limiting daily activity, school, work absences, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths.
The following risk factors may increase your chances of having the disease;
Common Classification includes:
On the degree of severity, it has been split into 4 categories:
The following signs and symptoms characterize the attacks of asthma;
Your doctor will take a detailed history and ask you questions about your symptoms, the triggering factors, your family, and your past medical history. He would examine your chest thoroughly and look for signs of other diseases as well. You may undergo the following tests for confirmation of diagnosis;
Diagnosis In Children: A breathing test is not helpful in children, especially under 5 years, so the doctor prescribes a bronchodilator. If it helps reduce the child’s symptoms, the diagnosis of asthma is made.
The following conditions can present like asthma;
The key to asthma management is knowing your triggers and avoiding them, plus adhering tightly to your treatment regime and keeping track of your breathing to assess your asthma control. The treatment of asthma is divided into two blocks; One is long-term control medications which is the cornerstone of treatment, and the other is quick-relief medications. Asthma medications are administered through specific delivery devices like a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer, or dry powder inhalers.
Long Term Control Medications :
The future course of asthma depends upon the management of the disease. With the tight control of symptoms, morbidity and mortality will be less. The severity of the symptoms and the need for treatment decreases in nearly 50% of children by late adolescence or early adulthood. Asthma can result in some permanent, irreversible changes in the airways of patients with poorly controlled disease and cause chronic debilitating asthma.
Adopting the following lifestyle changes may help you cope with asthma;
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on May 12, 2023.