Asthma is an inflammatory disease of airway passages. Asthma can cause symptoms of cough, difficulty in breathing, chest tightness and wheezing either alone or in a combination. Allergies are strongly linked to asthma. Childhood asthma and adult onset asthma are different. Till the age 20 no symptoms are seen in adult onset asthma. By avoiding triggers and taking some good preventive measures one can decrease the number of asthma attacks.
Asthma can be seen in several types based upon the triggers.
- Allergic asthma which might be due to food, mold, pollen, dust and pet dander. And this is mostly seen seasonally.
- Non allergic asthma is the other type in which irritants might be cigarette smoke, cold air, air pollution, perfumes household cleaning products etc.
- Some people with asthma show symptoms of asthma like excessive coughing, shortness of breath etc. within few minutes of starting exercise. This type of asthma is termed as Exercise Induced Asthma.
- Occupational asthma is a type of asthma which is induced by triggers like dust, dyes, fumes, industrial chemicals etc. at work. The trigger depends on which industry the person is working, his/her exposure to the specific trigger at the workplace, levels of trigger and his/her tendency for the development of Asthma.
- Cough more during night
- Difficulty in breathing after doing a physical activity for 10 to 15 minutes
- Chest tightness or pressure
- Feeling tired
- Lack of sleep because of difficulty in breathing and cough more during night times.
- In severe cases one can even notice difficulty in talking, blue lips, pale face, excessive sweating.
How Asthma is diagnosed:
- Clinical symptoms and presentation plays an important role in the diagnosis of asthma.
- Routine blood tests including the immunoglobulin E levels are checked. In people with allergic conditions these levels are usually high.
- There are some tests to see lung function which we call it as lung function tests or pulmonary function tests (PFTs)
- Chest X Ray to see if there is any abnormality.
Treatment and prevention:
- After knowing the severity of asthma your doctor will prescribe medication accordingly. Treatment can vary from inhalers to oral medication.
- Medication is delivered through nebulizers for faster relief in case of with severe symptoms.
- Identifying and avoiding the triggers plays an important role in decreasing the asthma attacks.
- Following the instructions given by the doctor in taking medication at the right time and regularly will help a lot.
- Humidifiers which can add some moisture to the air can ease asthma symptoms. How ever, check with your doctor before you regularly use humidifiers.
- If it is being difficult to avoid triggers, then it is advisable to go for immunotherapy after discussing with your doctor.
- Adjustment of the doses and usage of the inhaler without prescription should be avoided.
- Using the inhalers in the right way is important for effective delivery of medicine. Use it once in the doctor’s’ office so that your doctor can correct if the method is incorrect.
- Regular monitoring of the symptoms is necessary. If the symptoms persists even after starting the treatment your doctor may change the dosage and the drug.