Asthma is caused by a respiratory disease which affects the airway, causing it to become swollen or inflamed. The condition causes a narrowing of the airway and prevents air from being properly carried to and from the lungs. The swelling makes the airway extremely sensitive to irritations and increases your vulnerability to allergic reactions. Individuals who suffer from this chronic condition are said to be asthmatic.
Symptoms of asthma include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Chest tightness or pain
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty sleeping due to shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing
- Coughing or wheezing attacks which are made worse by respiratory viruses and common colds
- A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
If the individual's case of asthma is getting worse you will start to notice symptoms of asthma becoming more frequent and bothersome. There will be an increased difficulty in breathing and he/she will need to use a quick-relief inhaler much more.
Asthma flare-ups may be more common in the following situations:
- Being a smoker
- Being overweight
- Having a blood relative that has asthma too
- Having a secondary allergic condition (allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, hay fever)
- Exposure to second-hand smoke
- If a mother smokes while pregnant, the child may experience frequent asthma flare-ups.
- Exposure to pollution and exhaust fumes
- Exposure to chemicals used while styling your hair, cleaning the house, or manufacturing
Be mindful of these asthma triggers
If you suffer from asthma or have a visiting, or resident, family member who does you should be aware of the following major asthma triggers:
- Respiratory infections and common colds
- Airborne allergies caused by pollen, animal dander, cockroaches, mold, and dust mites
- Cold air
- Increased physical activity
- Air pollutants and irritants
- Certain medications like beta blockers, ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen
- Sulfites and preservatives that are usually added to shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, and certain alcohol-based beverages
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (when stomach acids rises and irritates the throat)
- Menstrual cycles in some women
Treatment and contacting your doctor
If you suspect that you, or a family member, has asthma you should contact your doctor for advice. Frequent coughing and wheezing that goes on for a longer period might be early signs of asthma, and being able to treat an asthma condition early on will help prevent any long-term damage to the lungs and prevent the condition from worsening.
If you have had a checkup with your doctor and he has confirmed that you have asthma, work together with your doctor to keep the symptoms under control. Monitor the symptoms closely and do your best to stay healthy on a daily basis. Should your symptoms worsen, you should contact your doctor right away.
The more severe the asthma attack, the more life threatening it is. Always be in touch with your doctor to determine the specific signs and symptoms which will tell you that the asthma is worsening. Some of these include a rapid worsening of shortness of breath and wheezing, shortness of breath while doing minimal physical activity, and zero improvement even after using a quick-relief inhaler.
Do not try solve asthma attacks by self medicating. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before using new medications to ease the symptoms. Overusing certain asthma medications can worsen the condition. Ask your doctor for a list of all asthma medications you should use and how often you should use a quick-relief inhaler.
In most cases, the symptoms of asthma will change over time. Discuss with your doctor if you feel your medication needs to be adjusted.