Asthma is a long-term disease of the lungs. It causes our airways to get inflamed and narrow, and it makes our breathing difficult.
Types of asthma:
There are different types of asthma, which include:
- Allergic /genetic ( most common)
- Nonallergic – changes in temperature, stress, cold
- Occupational – people working in chemical fumes, dust, irritating gases etc.
- Medication /drug-induced asthma
Dr. Noordin Wadhvaniya
Specialist Respiratory Medicine
In asthma, our airways react to things around us. these are called asthma triggers. They might cause symptoms or make them worse. Common asthma triggers include:
- Infections like sinusitis, colds, and the flu
- Allergens such as pollens, pet dander, and dust
- Irritants like strong odors from perfumes or cleaning solutions
- Air pollution
- Tobacco smoke
- Cold air or changes in the weather, such as temperature or humidity
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Strong emotions such as anxiety, laughter, sadness, or stress
- Medications such as aspirin
- Food preservatives called sulfites, found in things like shrimp, pickles, beer and wine, dried fruits, and bottled lemon and lime juices
Symptoms of Asthma:
Most common symptoms of asthma include:
- Coughing, especially at night or in the early morning
- Shortness of breath with or without wheezing
- Tightness, pain or pressure in your chest.
- Running nose and sneezing, if associated allergic rhinitis.
An asthmatic individual may not have all the symptoms together and these can vary from time to time and in intensity.
Not all asthmatics will have the same symptoms.
When to see a doctor:
An asthma attack is an episode in which, the muscles around the breathing tubes tighten causing breathing difficulty.
Reach the doctor if any of the following findings are noticed:
- Fast breathing/wheezing.
- Continuous bouts of cough
- Pale or blue face, lips, or fingernails
- The skin around your ribs pulls inward when you breathe in
- Trouble breathing, walking or talking
- Symptoms that don’t get better after you take medication
It is done with the help of history, clinical examination, and investigations such as chest X-ray, spirometry ( breathing test) +/- allergy test.
Asthma can be easily managed and can be kept under control with the help of medications. Asthma medications are generally safe and well-tolerated.
The treatment will be decided by the doctor based on the symptoms and finding in the spirometry and can include inhaled medications and allergy tablets to control the inflammation in the airways.
Medication will be the key to getting asthma under control, but we can do some things at home to help.
- Avoiding asthma triggers.
- Exercising regularly.
- Stay at a healthy weight.
- Taking care of conditions that can trigger symptoms, such as GERD.
- breathing exercises to ease symptoms