Asthma: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Asthma: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

D
Dr. Akash Sharma
November 17, 20207 mins read

Key Takeaways

  • Asthma is a chronic lung disease that has no cure and relies on proper management as treatment.
  • Experts believe there are many reasons that help in developing a breathing problem.
  • Treatment from a medical specialist will help keep the symptoms from spiraling out of control.

When it comes to respiratory illnesses, chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) are those related to the lungs or other parts of the airways. Some of the more common types are pulmonary hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, occupational lung disease, and asthma. Respiratory illnesses can cause an unimaginable level of discomfort to those who are afflicted. It is possible to develop CRDs like asthma disease during the early years of childhood. For this reason, it is imperative that you understand all you can about this chronic condition. Here’s all you need to know about asthma symptoms, causes, types, and treatment.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that has no cure and relies on proper management as treatment. It is an inflammatory disease, which makes breathing very difficult thereby limiting the affected in many ways. For some, even the smallest amounts of physical activity can be extremely challenging.

An asthma attack occurs when the lining of the airways swell up and the muscles surrounding them tighten, effectively getting narrow. This makes it very difficult for air to pass through and can be life-threatening.

What is an Asthma Attack?

An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of symptoms that can exacerbate asthma. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. Asthma attacks can vary in severity, and some may require emergency medical care. Treatment for an asthma attack typically includes the use of inhaled medications to open the airways and relieve symptoms. Three things can happen during the process.

  • Bronchospasm: Bronchospasm is a sudden, severe narrowing of the airways that can occur during an asthma attack. When bronchospasm happens, it can make breathing difficult.
  • Inflammation: While Inflammation is a normal body response to an irritant, in people with asthma, this Inflammation can be excessive and lead to a range of symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.
  • Mucus Production: During an asthma attack, the airways become constricted, and the mucus glands in the lungs produce more mucus. This mucus can cause coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

What are Asthma Causes?

Asthma is a condition that affects the airways. It is a chronic condition, which means it can last for a long time and can be controlled, but not cured. Causes of asthma include: 

Allergies:

While the exact mechanism is still not known, it is thought that allergies may trigger an inflammatory response in the airways that leads to asthma. This theory is supported by the fact that people with allergies often have high levels of Inflammation in their airways.

Genetics:

There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that genetics play a role in the development of asthma. Studies have shown that specific genetic markers are more prevalent in people with asthma, indicating that this disease is passed down from parents to children.

Respiratory Infections:

Respiratory Infections: Respiratory infections are a common trigger of asthma symptoms. It is estimated that up to half of all asthma cases are caused by respiratory infections. These infections can be viral, bacterial, or fungal.

Experts believe there are many reasons that help in developing a breathing problem. Genetics plays a major role in determining whether or not someone may develop the problem.

What are Common Asthma Attack Triggers?

While everyone's triggers are different, some are more common than others. Dust, for example, is a very common trigger for asthma attacks. If you have asthma, it's important to do your best to avoid contact with dust. The triggers are as follows:

Air Pollution:

Air pollution has long been known to worsen asthma symptoms, but new research suggests that it may also trigger the development of asthma in otherwise healthy children.

Dust mites:

Dust mites are tiny creatures that thrive in warm, humid environments, and their waste products are known to trigger asthma attacks.

Mold:

Mold spores are tiny and can be found in the air, surfaces, and dust. When mold spores land on a moist surface, they can start to grow.

Types of Asthma

Intermittent:

Intermittent asthma is a type of asthma that involves periods of symptoms followed by periods of remission. This can make it difficult to manage, as the symptoms can vary greatly from one person to the next. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing intermittent asthma, but there are a few things you can do to help control your symptoms and keep them under control.

Persistent:

Persistent asthma is the more severe form of the condition, and its symptoms are often chronic and continuous. This type of asthma can make everyday activities, such as walking or talking, difficult to do. It can also lead to serious health complications like lung damage or asthmatic attacks.

The causes vary based on the different types of asthma, and each type is further differentiated by either onset or activity. Here is a breakdown of these.

Adult-onset Asthma

Asthma develops during adulthood and is more likely to present with persistent symptoms. Stress, smoking, obesity, hormones, and other respiratory illnesses can trigger attacks.

Cough-variant Asthma (CVA)

It is characterised by a persistent cough, which can devolve into more common symptoms if left untreated.

Exercise-induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB)

Occurs within minutes of exercise or physical exertion. It is found that about 90% of asthmatics also have EIB.

Occupational Asthma

This type is caused by the triggers present in a workplace and can be common in a range of industries. Common lines of occupation include farming, woodworking, textiles, and manufacturing.

Extrinsic Asthma

Brought on by allergens and can be seasonal for some. Mold, pollen, dust, pet dander, and certain foods can be common triggers.

Nocturnal Asthma

One in which symptoms worsen at night, normally due to dust mites, pet dander, and heartburn.

Intrinsic Asthma

Brought on by irritants that aren’t allergens. Good examples include perfumes, cleaning products, cold air, pollution, viral illnesses, and cigarette smoke.

Aspirin-induced Asthma (AIA)

It occurs as a response to aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). Commonly considered as one of the more severe types of asthma.

What is Asthma Symptoms?

Given that asthma restricts air supply to the body, there are many common symptoms that are fairly easy to notice. They are as follows.

  • Wheezing
  • Squealing sound when breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty talking
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Coughing, severe in some cases

If any of these symptoms worsen, it is advised to consult a doctor immediately.

Asthma Treatment

The doctor will recommend either a combination or a single asthma treatment for you:

There are many different treatments available for asthma, and the best treatment for you depends on your condition's severity. In some cases, medication may be all that is necessary to keep your asthma under control. In other cases, you may need to use a combination of medication and other treatments, such as avoiding triggers, learning how to manage stress, or practising relaxation techniques.

If you have asthma, it is important to work with your doctor to create a treatment plan that is right for you. You can manage your asthma and live a healthy and active life with the right treatment.

Asthma treatment is split into 3 categories. These are breathing exercises, long-term medications, and quick-relief treatments.

Breathing Exercises

They help in increasing the amount of air you can inhale and exhale. It helps to keep severe symptoms at bay by improving your lung capacity.

Long-term Medication

These are taken daily to keep symptoms under control but offer no relief during an attack. Common medications include long-acting bronchodilators, anticholinergics, biologic therapy drugs, and anti-inflammatories.

Quick-relief Treatment

Bronchodilators, often as inhalers or nebulizers, offer relief within minutes. They relax the muscles that have tightened in the airways.

Asthma Prevention

You can prevent asthma attacks by:

  • Steering clear of known allergens
  • Taking the recommended preventive medication
  • Paying special attention to triggers
  • Getting allergy shots regularly

Asthma Test

One of the most important aspects of managing asthma is getting an accurate asthma diagnosis. This is because the severity of asthma can vary from person to person, and the treatments that work for one person may not work for another.

Various tests can be used to diagnose asthma, including spirometry, lung function tests, and chest x-rays. If you think you or someone you know may have asthma, it is important to see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. With the right diagnosis, asthma test and treatment plan, asthma can be managed effectively.

Asthma can occur at any age, unlike COPD, even during infancy. Being aware of all the relevant factors can help you address the situation better. With such a respiratory condition, you can't always prevent an attack. This is why it is recommended that you seek advice. Treatment from a medical specialist will help keep the symptoms from spiraling out of control. With the healthcare platform provided by Bajaj Finserv Health, this is easy to achieve as it grants you access to an entire suite of benefits when it comes to finding and leveraging healthcare.

Use this, you can find the best respiratory and other specialists in your vicinity, book appointments online, and e-consult with doctors over video. Video consultations come in handy as doctors offer solutions without delays, while you stay comfortable at home. You can also maintain digital patient records and track health vitals, which can then be sent to specialists in an instant. This helps doctors react proactively to an attack and thus ensures that you get the required asthma treatment in time. Start your journey towards a healthier life!

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Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

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