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More than 25 million Americans have asthma. That’s about one in 13 people.
From lung function tests to inhalers, what is there to know about asthma? If you are looking to learn more about this chronic disorder, you have come to the right place.
Let’s review the common asthma symptoms, causes, and treatments.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs in the airways.
It creates swelling and excess mucus along the inner walls of our bronchial tubes. The inflammation makes it difficult for air to pass through, thus constricting breathing.
Some people experience minor flare-ups, while others suffer from life-threatening asthma attacks.
Common asthma symptoms include:
- Chest pain or tightness
- Wheezing, especially when exhaling
- Trouble sleeping due to constricted airways
- Frequent shortness of breath
- Coughing attacks
Asthma is a chronic disease that cannot be cured. However, its symptoms can be treated.
Anyone can develop asthma at any time, although some people are more prone to the disorder. Researchers believe both genetic and environmental factors contribute to asthma development.
You are at a higher risk of asthma if one or both of your parents suffer from it. Children born to women who smoked during pregnancy also have a high risk of developing the lung condition.
Some children are not born with asthma but develop it later due to severe lung damage during their developmental years. This could occur from physical injuries or diseases like pneumonia.
More often than not, asthma stems from an unhealthy environment. Children frequently exposed to second-hand smoke may develop breathing difficulties.
People living in homes with poor air quality are also at risk. Indoor air allergens like toxins, dust mites, and mold make it difficult to breathe and create long-lasting lung problems.
But asthma doesn’t only come from the home.
Working in places with high exposure to chemical irritants and industrial dust wreaks havoc on our lungs. Farmers, hairdressers, and manufacturers are some of the most at-risk occupations for asthma.
What Triggers an Asthma Attack?
An asthma attack is when a person’s airways become inflamed. They may narrow and produce extra mucus. The combination of excessive fluids, narrow passageways, and swelling triggers an asthma attack.
Some asthma attacks are minor, but others are life-threatening.
But what triggers a flare-up? Typically, external factors are to blame.
When it becomes difficult to breathe, an asthma attack is more likely to occur. Allergies, smoke, and drastic changes in the weather invoke a flare-up.
For about 90% of asthma patients, intense exercise can ignite an attack.
A person’s chest will tighten, they will have trouble catching their breath, and they may develop a cough. Slow warm-ups can prevent an exercise-induced asthma attack.
In other circumstances, an asthma attack is triggered by what we eat.
Food preservatives, like sulfites, trigger asthma symptoms and make it difficult to breathe. Ingredients like shellfish, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, and wheat can cause asthma as well as anaphylaxis.
Before you can receive asthma treatment, a doctor will classify the severity of the disease. There are four different categories.
Mild intermittent asthma includes mild symptoms that last up to two days per month.
Mild persistent asthma patients experience flare-ups multiple times throughout the week.
Moderate persistent asthma patients have symptoms once per day and also at night.
Severe persistent asthma refers to those who frequently experience attacks at night as well as throughout the day.
While there is not an established cure for asthma, there are a variety of effective treatment options that lessen symptoms and prevent flare-ups.
Inhalers can contain different medications depending on the patient’s needs.
Reliever inhalers quickly relax airway muscles to allow for easy breathing. A dose of reliever medicine works fast and can prevent an asthma attack from getting worse.
Reliever medications do not block long-term symptoms. Rather, they are used to stop an already-occurring asthma attack.
Any patient who suffers from flare-ups should carry a reliever inhaler with them at all times.
Inhalers can control an asthma attack, but they also prevent future flare-ups. These inhalers use controller medications to lessen inflammation and keep the airways clear for easy breathing.
The patient’s asthma classification determines how often the patient needs to use a controller inhaler, such as Symbicort. Some patients can do one puff a day, while others may need to inhale every few hours.
For those who rely on controller medicines, it’s critical to be well-stocked. Patients may shop around for different providers to ensure they are getting the best deal on their medications.
If you are someone who relies on controller medication to combat asthma symptoms, this competitive Symbicort price sheet can help.
Inhalers Using Corticosteroids
Corticosteroids treat asthma along with other allergies. They are added to an inhaler to provide long-term asthma treatment.
The steroids contain anti-inflammatory properties that reduce swelling and mucus production in the airways. With less swelling, patients are less likely to experience flare-ups.
Corticosteroids allow for better asthma control, fewer attacks, and less severe flare-ups.
In addition to medical treatments, some asthma patients incorporate lifestyle changes to reduce asthma symptoms.
Dietary adjustments can decrease flare-ups caused by food. Maintaining a well-balanced diet with plenty of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties (like garlic and ginger) can keep your airways clear.
A better diet also leads to weight loss. Obesity increases the risk of asthma, so managing your weight can help you keep the disease under control.
Some patients focus on enhancing their breathing to reduce asthma risks. They turn to yoga, hypnotherapy, mindfulness, and the Buteyko Breathing Technique to gain control over breathing patterns and prevent chest tightness.
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Asthma is not something you can take lightly. It is a chronic disorder that can be life-threatening.
But with the right education and treatments, you can reduce asthma symptoms and stop the disease from controlling your life.
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