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Home :: Respiratory Diseases

Asthma - Asthma Symptom, Treatment, Prevention, Cause


Acute Bronchitis
Chronic Bronchitis
Lung Abscess
Pleural Effusion

Asthma is defined as a disease of airways characterised by hyperresponsiveness of the trachea and bronchi, due to a multiplicity of stimuli. Asthma is an ancient Greek word meaning " panting or short- drawn breath." It is the most troublesome of the respiratory diseases. The asthma patient gets frequent attacks of breathlessness in between which he is completely normal.

Asthma is manifested physiologically by a widespread narrowing of the air passages, which is relieved promptly by therapy. Most attacks are short lived and last from a few minutes to hours. It may be familial or acquired. Asthma, seasonal or perennial sneezing, urticaria and eczema are many and different manifestations of one condition- allergy. A person may have eczema in childhood, develop sneezing when he grows up and then may contract asthma. A parent may have asthma and amongst his sons, one may have eczema and the other sneezing.

More than 20 million Americans are estimated to have asthma, an immune disorder that affects the muscles around the bronchial tubes leading to the lungs. During an asthma attack, muscles around the airways tighten up, making the airways narrower so less air flows through. An acute asthma attack is caused by inflammation in the airways of the lungs, causing contraction and narrowing of the airways (bronchioles), restricting airflow and making breathing very difficult. If you have asthma, your airways (breathing passages) are extra sensitive. The symptoms of asthma, which can range from mild to life threatening, can usually be controlled with a combination of drugs and environmental changes. Asthma can't be cured, but it can be managed. With proper treatment, people with asthma can lead normal, active lives. Inflammation increases, and the airways become more swollen and even narrower. In children, the most common triggers are viral illnesses such as those that cause the common cold. Vigorous exercise will cause symptoms for most students with asthma if their asthma is not well controlled. Some students experience symptoms only when they exercise.

Asthma varies from student to student and often from season to season. It is a condition that affects a person's airways, which are also called breathing tubes or bronchial (say: brong -kee-ul) tubes. These tubes lead from the windpipe, or trachea (say: tray -kee-uh), into the lungs. Asthma is characterised by attacks of breathlessness, tight chest, wheezing and coughing which are caused by the airways becoming narrowed and inflamed. People with the disease can avoid substances and situations that act as triggers. They also can learn to recognize early warning signs and take medications to reduce underlying inflammation and prevent or relieve narrowing of the airways. It is a chronic but treatable condition. You can manage your condition much like someone manages diabetes or heart disease. Sometimes people have asthma when they are very young and it goes away as they grow up. It may come back later in life. While many asthma attacks are relatively mild and can be treated and controlled at home, some are more severe and may even require hospitalization. Asthma is a complex disease that is influenced by multiple genetic, developmental , and environmental factors, which interact to produce the overall condition.

Causes of Asthma

The comman causes of Asthma include the following :

  • Asthma is strongly associated with pollution.
  • Other possible causes of asthma in vulnerable individuals include allergic reactions to dietary substances like wheat, dairy products, chocolate, nuts, preservatives and other chemical food and beverage additives.
  • Strong odors or scented products or chemicals .
  • If people in your family have allergic diseases like asthma, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), or eczema, there is a higher chance you will have asthma.
  • Laboratory workers can get asthma from lab animals: rats, mice, guinea-pigs .
  • Crab processors can get asthma from crab dust.
  • Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or anything else, increases your risk of developing asthma symptoms.
  • Some medications such as some of those which treat heart disease and high blood pressure may cause asthma symptoms or make asthma worse.

Symptoms of Asthma

Some sign and symptoms related to Asthma are as follows:

  • Characteristic 'wheezing' sound, especially when exhaling.
  • May have increased pulse, anxiety or fear.
  • Rhonchous lung sounds (audible through a stethoscope ).
  • Rapid breathing ( tachypnea ).
  • Intercostal retractions (pulling of the skin between the ribs when breathing).
  • Prolonged expiration.
  • Over-inflation of the chest.
  • Disturbed sleep caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing.
  • Chest tightness may be one of the first signs that your asthma is getting worse.

Treatment of Asthma

Here is list of the methods for treating Asthma:

  • The most effective treatment for asthma is identifying triggers, such as pets or aspirin, and limiting or eliminating exposure to them.
  • Antibiotics are generally used to cure acute bronchitis and other respiratory infections.
  • Some kids need to take asthma medication only once in a while, when they have a flare-up. This is called rescue medicine because it works fast to open the airways, so the person can breathe.
  • Conventional Western medicine deals with asthma treatment via a combination of inhalers, anti-inflammatory medication, bronchodilators and even steroids.
  • Specific treatments for asthma are broadly classified as relievers, preventers and emergency treatment.
  • Another sort of medicine is called a reliever that is used during an asthma attack and may be contained in an inhaler.
  • Herbal and homeopathic asthma treatment can be extremely effective.