Asthma Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, and Diagnosis

Asthma refers to an inflammation of the airways and lungs. Asthma can make breathing difficult, and it can even make certain activities impossible or impossible.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 25 million AmericansTrusted Source have asthma.

It’s the most common chronic condition among American children: 1 child out of every 12Trusted Source has asthma.

Understanding asthma is essential to be able to recognize the effects of breathing.

Normally, every time you breathe, air passes through your nose, mouth, and down into the throat. Then it reaches your airways and eventually reaches your lungs.

Asthma

Many small air passages are located in your lungs and help to deliver oxygen from the air into the bloodstream.

Asthma symptoms are when the lining of the airways becomes swollen and the muscles around it tighten. Mucus fills your airways, further restricting the amount of air that can flow.

This can lead to an asthma attack, which is the tightening of your chest and coughing that’s common with asthma.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of asthma is wheezing, a squealing or whistling sound made when you breathe.

You may also experience other symptoms of asthma, such as:

  • Coughing, especially nightly, during laughter, or while exercising
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Talking is difficult
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Fatigue

The type of asthma you have will determine the symptoms you experience.

These symptoms are not common for everyone with asthma. You should consult your doctor if you suspect that the symptoms you are experiencing may be asthma.

Asthma

It is possible that the first sign you have asthma is not an actual attack.

Types

There are many types of asthma. Bronchial asthma is the most common form of asthma. It affects the bronchi and lungs.

Other forms of asthma include adult-onset asthma and childhood asthma. Adult-onset asthma symptoms usually don’t manifest until the age of 20.

Below are some other types of asthma.

Allergy (extrinsic)

This common form of asthma is triggered by allergens. This could include:

  • Pet dander is from animals such as cats and dogs
  • Food
  • Mold
  • pollen
  • dust

Because allergic asthma often occurs in the winter, it is also known as seasonal allergy.

Nonallergic asthma (intrinsic asthma)

This type of asthma can be triggered by irritants in the air that are not allergic. These irritants could include:-

  • Burning wood
  • cigarette smoke
  • Cold air
  • air pollution
  • viral illnesses
  • Air fresheners
  • Cleaning products for the home
  • Parfums

Asthma at work

The workplace triggers can cause occupational asthma. These triggers include:-

  • Dust
  • Dyes
  • Gases and fumes
  • industrial chemicals
  • animal proteins
  • rubber latex

These irritants may be found in many industries, including:-

  • Agriculture
  • Textiles
  • Woodworking
  • Manufacturing

Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction

EIB (exercise-induced bronchoconstriction) is a condition that affects the lungs within minutes of beginning exercise and can last for up to ten minutes after stopping.

This condition was previously known under the name exercise-induced asthma (EIA).

Up to 90 percent of people with asthma also experience EIB, but not everyone with EIB will have other types of asthma.

Aspirin-induced asthma

Aspirin-induced asthma (AIA), also known as aspirin-exacerbated breathing disease (AERD), can be severe.

This can be caused by aspirin, or any other NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug), like naproxen (Aleve), or ibuprofen [Advil].

Asthma

These symptoms can appear in minutes or even hours. Nasal polyps are also common in these patients.

About 9 percent of people with asthma have AIA. It is most common in people between the ages of 20 and 50.

Nocturnal asthma

This type of asthma causes symptoms to worsen at night.

Some triggers that can cause symptoms at night include:

  • Heartburn
  • Pet dander
  • Dust mites

Nocturnal asthma may also be triggered by the body’s natural sleeping cycle.

Cough-variant asthma

Cough-variant asthma, also known as CVA, doesn’t present with the classic symptoms of asthma-like wheezing or shortness of breath. This condition is characterized by a persistent, dry cough.

CVA, if not treated, can cause severe asthma flares. These flares may include other symptoms.

Diagnosis

No single test or exam can determine whether your child or you have asthma. Your doctor will instead use a variety of criteria to determine whether the symptoms are asthma-related.

These are some of the ways you can diagnose asthma.

  • Your health history. Your risk of developing the disease is greater if you have relatives with it. Inform your doctor about this genetic connection.
  • Examen in person Your doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to your heartbeat. A skin test may be performed to check for allergic reactions such as hives and eczema. Asthma risk is increased by allergies.
  • Breathing tests PFTs (pulmonary function tests) measure the airflow into your lungs. The most common test is spirometry. You blow into a device that measures airflow speed.

Children under five years old are not usually referred for breathing tests by doctors. It’s too difficult to obtain an accurate reading.

They may recommend that you give your child asthma medication and then wait for improvement. Your child may have asthma if they prescribe you medication.

If you have asthma, your doctor might prescribe an asthma medication or a bronchodilator for adults.

Classifications

The National Asthma Education Prevention Program (NAEPP), which helps diagnose and treat asthma by determining the severity of the condition before treating it, has been created.

There are several Classifications

  • Intermittent.This type of asthma affects a majority of people and doesn’t cause any problems with their daily lives. The symptoms are mild and last for a few days or nights each month.
  • Mild persistence These symptoms can occur up to four times per month, but not every day.
  • Moderate persistent.These symptoms can occur every day and at least once a week, but they do not happen nightly. They can limit your daily activities.
  • Severe persistent. These symptoms can occur multiple times a day, most nights. The symptoms are very limited in daily activities.

Causes

Asthma has not been linked to a single cause. Researchers believe that asthma is caused by many factors. These factors include:

  • Genetics. You are more likely to get asthma if you have an asthmatic parent or sibling.
  • History of viral infections People who have had severe viral infections in childhood (e.g. RSV) are more likely to get the condition.
  • Hygiene hypothesis. This theory states that if babies don’t get enough exposure to bacteria in their first years and later years, their immune system doesn’t develop enough strength to combat allergies and asthma.

Treatment

There are three main categories of asthma treatments:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Quick-acting Treatments
  • Long-term aspiration control medication

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