Millions of people suffer from asthma or asthmatic symptoms, and the condition is characterized by inflammation of the bronchial tubes with increased production of sticky secretions inside the tubes. People with asthma experience symptoms when the airways tighten, inflame, or fill with mucus.
In the United States asthma affects an estimated 26 million people including children, teens, and adults — many of whom aren’t aware that they have it, especially if their symptoms are not severe. Asthma does not discriminate against age, race, or sex.
Asthma causes a variety of symptoms that can worsen at any time, making breathing difficult. Asthma is a disease that cannot be cured, but it can be managed. Some days you may not have symptoms, but this doesn’t mean your asthma has gone away. Asthma doesn't have to slow you down.
You may still need to pay attention to how your asthma makes you feel, even when you don't have many symptoms. The more severe the inflammation and constriction become, and the longer they go untreated, the worse your asthma symptoms may be and the harder they may be to control. You may need to monitor your asthma symptoms every day, because the disease is always with you.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), the most common symptoms are:
· Coughing, especially at night, during exercise or when laughing
· Shortness of breath
· Chest tightness
· Wheezing (a whistling or squeaky sound in your chest when you breathe, especially when exhaling)
Any asthma symptom is serious and can become deadly if left untreated. Symptoms may be triggered by exposure to an allergen (such as ragweed, pollen, pet hair or dander, or dust mites), irritants in the air (such as smoke, chemical fumes or strong odors) or extreme weather conditions. Illness — particularly a respiratory illness or the flu — and exercise can also make you more susceptible.
A physical display of strong emotion that affects normal breathing patterns — such as shouting, crying or laughing — may also contribute to an asthma attack. Panic can prevent a person with asthma from relaxing and following instructions, which is essential during an attack. Scientists have found that rapid breathing associated with strong emotions can cause bronchial tubes to constrict, possibly provoking or worsening an attack.
Like any chronic condition, asthma can cause emotional strain. As a leading cause of work and school absences, it can have a significant effect on livelihood, education and emotional well-being. Depression may set in when people diagnosed with asthma believe that they are unable to participate in normal activities.
Asthma symptoms can happen at any time. Mild episodes may last only a few minutes and may be resolved spontaneously or with medication; more severe episodes can last from hours to days. For more details about the ACAAI and asthma, visit this site: http://acaai.org/asthma/symptoms .
However, not every person with asthma has the same symptoms in the same way. You may not have all of these symptoms, or you may have different symptoms at different times. Your asthma symptoms may also vary from one asthma attack to the next, being mild during one and severe during another. Some people with asthma may go for extended periods without having any symptoms, interrupted by periodic worsening of their symptoms. Others might have asthma symptoms every day. One good aspect is that the disease is not contagious.
In addition, some people may only have asthma during periods of exercise, or asthma with viral infections like colds. Mild asthma attacks are generally more common. Usually, the airways open up within a few minutes to a few hours. Severe attacks are less common but last longer and require immediate medical help. It is important to recognize and treat even mild asthma symptoms to help you prevent severe episodes and keep asthma under better control.
Also, recent research by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America showed that 97% of allergists consider a pest-free home to be vital to avoid the symptoms related to asthma and allergies. Despite this fact, many consumers are unaware of the implications of the common dust mite and many other pests have on their health.
Making matters worse, many bugs and pests are hidden from people and encouraged by the reduced cleaning caused by increasingly busy lives. For more information about this topic, visit this website: http://aardvarkpestmgmt.com/household-pests-a-leading-trigger-for-childhood-asthma-and-allergies/
Asthma is especially tough on kids. To control asthma, partner with your doctor to manage your asthma or your child's asthma. Children aged 10 or older—and younger children who are able—should take an active role in their asthma care, according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH). . Taking an active role to control your asthma involves:
· Working with your doctor to treat other conditions that can interfere with asthma management.
· Avoiding things that worsen your asthma (asthma triggers). However, one trigger you should not avoid is physical activity. Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Talk with your doctor about medicines that can help you stay active.
· Working with your doctor and other health care providers to create and follow an asthma action plan.
An asthma action plan gives guidance on taking your medicines properly, avoiding asthma triggers (except physical activity), tracking your level of asthma control, responding to worsening symptoms, and seeking emergency care when needed.
Asthma is treated with two types of medicines: long-term control and quick-relief medicines. Long-term control medicines help reduce airway inflammation and prevent asthma symptoms. Quick-relief, or "rescue," medicines relieve asthma symptoms that may flare up. Your initial treatment will depend on the severity of your asthma. Follow up asthma treatment will depend on how well your asthma action plan is controlling your symptoms and preventing asthma attacks.
Your level of asthma control can vary over time and with changes in your home, school, or work environments. These changes can alter how often you're exposed to the factors that can worsen your asthma. Your doctor may need to increase your medicine if your asthma doesn't stay under control. On the other hand, if your asthma is well controlled for several months, your doctor may decrease your medicine. These adjustments to your medicine will help you maintain the best control possible with the least amount of medicine necessary.
Asthma treatment for certain groups of people—such as children, pregnant women, or those for whom exercise brings on asthma symptoms—will be adjusted to meet their special needs. For much more information, visit this website: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/asthma .
If you have asthma, you may have developed ways of coping with your symptoms that you may think are working quite well, according to this website: www.asthma.org . However, you may not be controlling your asthma symptoms. Work with your healthcare provider to develop your personalized asthma management goals. Here are some examples:
· Few, if any, asthma symptoms
· Few, if any, awakenings during the night caused by asthma symptoms
· Little or no time off from school or work due to asthma symptoms
· No limits on your participation in physical activities
· No asthma-related emergency department visits
· No asthma-related hospital stays
Unfortunately, asthma to date has no cure. But, it can be managed. Your family doctor or health care provider can help diagnose the symptoms and create a treatment plan for you or someone in your family that has been diagnosed with asthma or who has asthmatic symptoms. Don’t self-diagnose. See your health care practitioner. Ignoring the symptoms can be catastrophic.
Until next time.