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Asthma

Asthma is a condition that blocks your airways. It can make them narrow and swollen, resulting in excessive mucus. It is a type of breathing problem that causes coughing, whistling or wheezing on exhalation, and breath shortness. 

Asthma can be uncomfortable and lead to severe conditions if left untreated. It prevents people from performing daily life activities. It can also lead to a life-threatening asthma attack. While it cannot be completely cured, proper treatment can help one can manage its symptoms. 

Symptoms 

The symptoms can vary from person to person and even change over time. It depends on the conditions, asthma attacks, their frequencies, causes and other reasons. One may encounter a different sign and symptom than the other. However, the most common symptoms include;

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest tightness

  • Chest pain

  • Wheezing during exhaling in children  

  • Trouble sleeping by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing

  • Coughing or wheezing attacks that get worse due to respiratory viruses like the cold or the flu.

Some symptoms can worsen with time like-

  • Exercise-induced asthma- Winter seasons can affect poor respiratory system-cold and dry air are responsible for exercise-induced asthma.

  • Occupational- it is triggered by workplace components like chemicals, fumes, gases or dust.

  • Allergy induced- these are catalysts with airborne substances like pollen, mould spores, insect wastes or skin particles and dried saliva of pets.

Risk Factors 

There are a lot of factors responsible for increasing and making a person prone to asthma. These include the following- 

  • Hereditary - If your parents or siblings have asthma

  • When you have another allergic condition like atopic dermatitis. It causes red, itchy skin and can develop hay fever. This can result in a runny nose, congestion and itchy eyes.

  • Being overweight

  • Being a smoker

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke

  • Exposure to exhaust fumes

  • Pollution

  • Exposure to occupational triggers

Diagnosis 

Diagnoses are required to test for the type of asthma a person has. It can be classified into 4 categories- mild intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, or severe persistent. 

The tests include- physical examination, lung function examinations and additional tests.

Physical examination 

These are conducted to sort and know other possible reasons like respiratory infection or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Physicians or the doctor will ask about the signs and symptoms a person is going through. They’ll know the full medical history of the patient.

Lung function tests 

These tests are performed to know the basic functioning of the lungs. 

  • Spirometry- It will know the degree of narrowness your bronchial tubes have. This is checked by knowing the amount of air exhaled after deep breathing. It also is judged by the rate of breathing out.

  • Peak flow- It is a device that measures how hard one is breathing out. If you have a lower peak flow it indicates poor lung functioning or the asthma is getting worse. The doctors will guide you along on how to track and deal with low peak flow.

These tests are done before and after the medication that will open your airways. It is called a bronchodilator. If the condition is improved with the help of a bronchodilator, it may be due to asthma.

Additional tests 

  • Methacholine challenge- It is known as the asthma trigger and when inhaled it will cause the airways to narrow. If the patient reacts to methacholine, they may have asthma. 

  • Imaging tests- Chest X-rays can detect structural abnormalities or any diseases. The infections increasing the breathing problems can also be detected. 

  • Nitric oxide test- The test analyses the amount of nitric oxide is present in your breath. When the airways are inflamed, it is an indication of asthma. The nitric oxide levels can also be greater than normal. 

  • Sputum eosinophils- It identifies certain white blood cells (eosinophils) in solutions of saliva and mucus (sputum) collected in a cough. The symptoms are diagnosed as the eosinophils can be seen stained as a rose-coloured dye.

  • Provocative testing for exercise or cold-induced asthma- After performing a HIIT or physical activity, doctors will measure the obstructions in the airways.

Treatment 

To stop asthma attacks and related causes, it is better to opt for prevention and long term controls. Treatment involves the following-

  • Know your triggers 

  • Avoid the triggers 

  • Track breathing 

  • Medications 

  • Have a quick-relief inhaler.

Medications

  • The medication is prescribed by the doctors at CARE Hospitals on the basis of your age, symptoms, triggers and what is keeping them in control.

  • The long term medications will reduce the inflammation or the swelling in the airways. There are bronchodilators or quick-relief inhalers that can open these airways too. Allergic medications are prescribed by medical professionals to ease the discomfort while breathing.

  • The long term asthma control medications are taken daily. These are the cornerstone of asthma treatment and keep it in control. Types are-

  1. Medicines

  2. Combination inhalers

  3. Theophylline

  • Quick-relief medications- the rapid or short term asthma attacks can be treated with the same. Types are-

  1. short-acting beta-agonists 

  2. Anticholinergic agents 

  3. Oral and intravenous corticosteroids 

  • The quick reliever is the best aid during emergency attacks.

  • One should keep track of the puffs and consult a doctor on a weekly or biweekly basis.

Bronchial thermoplasty 

  • It is used to treat severe asthma that isn’t being helped with inhaled corticosteroids or other medications. 

  • The doctor heats the insides of the lungs. It is done with the help of an electrode and soothes and smoothes muscles. It won’t allow the airways to come together and will make breathing easy. It is a rare therapy to treat asthma patients.

Why Choose CARE Hospitals?

With comprehensive and extensive sources, CARE Hospitals provide world-class medical facilities with an aim to treat its patients the best. We work towards delivering genuine diagnoses and treatments. Asthma is a common condition and with an increase in COVID-19, it has become severe to most of the population. When the right steps are taken at the right time, the treatment at CARE Hospitals can work wonders. 
 

Frequently Asked Questions

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