What Is Asthma?

What Is Asthma

Asthma is the persistent inflammatory disease of the airways in the body. Airways are the path that air follows to get into and out of the lungs.

The long-term inflammation is associated with airway hyper-responsiveness. This hyper-responsiveness is an exaggerated, narrowing reaction of the airways to triggers such as allergens, viruses, and exercise. The response of the airways leads to repeated wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness, which can vary in intensity. All the symptoms are usually associated with the obstruction of the airflow within the lungs. The obstruction, however, is reversible and can recede either spontaneously or by the application of a treatment that can dilate the airways.

Asthma can be triggered by both allergic (e.g., pollens, mold, animal dander, cockroach residue, and house dust mites) and non-allergic (e.g., viral infection, tobacco smoke, cold air, and exercise) sources which lead to a chain of events resulting in the inflammation of the airways.

Scientific data also suggests that there may be a genetic predisposition to asthma. Maternal smoking, use of antibiotics, and delivery by cesarean section are termed as risk factors for the development of asthma in young children.

Once Asthma develops in patients, then it is countered by proper management to control the harmful effects. The proper management of Asthma encompasses control of exacerbations of the disease. An attempt is also made to minimize the severity and frequency of asthma symptoms so that there is less need for reliever medication. The aim is to improve lung function, normalize physical activity, and improve quality of life. In most asthma patients, control of the disease is accomplished in two ways; one is a recommendation of avoidance of triggers, and the other one is through medication.

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It is important for asthma patients to avoid the allergen or irritants that are causing the asthma attack. All patients are advised to stay away from tobacco smoke as often it proves to be a trigger. Covers for bedding, which are impermeable to an allergen are recommended to patients allergic to house dust mites. It is also recommended to keep the humidity in the house less than 50% to inhibit mite growth.

Patients allergic to pollens are advised to spend limited time outdoors to reduce exposure to pollens in peak pollen season. Using an air-conditioner and keeping the windows closed can also help in reducing exposure to pollens.

Those patients who are allergic to animal dander are advised to remove the animal from home. It has been noticed that the removal of animal can cause a decline in symptoms within a period of 4 to 6 months.

Exposure to mold allergens can be reduced by using fungicides and keeping humidity less than 50%.

The use of highly efficient air filters is also recommended. These air filters can be very helpful in the control of the onset of asthma symptoms by reducing exposure to various asthma triggers

The avoidance strategies can prove to be labor-intensive and cumbersome for the patients; therefore, patients need to be frequently counseled and encouraged to adopt a combination of avoidance measures for effective management of the disease.

Please feel free to post your comments if you have any questions.

Until Next Time,

Team Doctor ASKY!


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