Asthma, also known as bronchial asthma, is mostly a long term allergic disease that causes bronchospasm. A non-allergic route can also cause it, but it is primarily allergic related.
Asthma has a genetic link; therefore, it can be seen mostly in families where there are other types of allergic reactions. It is an inflammatory disease of the airways of the lungs.
The lungs are a pair of spongy air-filled organs, the trachea (windpipe) connects both lungs with the help of its branches called the bronchi. The bronchi enter into the lungs and further divides into a smaller branch called the bronchioles.
The bronchioles are entirely situated inside the lungs, at the end of the bronchioles are the alveoli (air sac) which carry out the gas exchange.
The bronchi are divided into three sections according to how it enters the lungs: the primary (main) bronchi, secondary (lobar) bronchi, and tertiary(segmental) bronchi.
Asthma is an inflamed constriction of the bronchi. The constriction leads to several manifestations that can either be minor or life-threatening.
Mayor Boss has put together a complete guide to help you identify the symptoms and things you should understand about asthma. So, Let’s get started.
Here are the early signs and symptoms of asthma:
- Dyspnea at night (shortness of breath)
- Nasal flaring(widen nostril while breathing)
- Difficulty sleeping
- Breathing through the mouth
- Frequent productive cough as a result of mucus production or dry, painful cough.
- Tachypnea (rapid breathing)
- Waking up suddenly from difficulty breathing (gasping for air)
- Chest pain and chest tightness
- Pallor of skin
- Inability to move during an asthmatic attack
- Losing breath easily during exercise or sex
Asthma Risk Factors
- Family history of asthma
- Having a preexisting allergic condition such as allergic rhinitis
- History of smoking or being a secondhand smoker
- Occupation in a chemical factory, for example being exposed to exhaust fumes
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Medications that may trigger asthma such as Ace inhibitors, beta-blockers
Classification of asthma is based on the occurrence of symptoms and causes.
Classification according to the appearance of asthma symptoms:
- Intermittent asthma: symptoms appear less than twice a week and interrupted sleep less than two nights a month.
- Mild persistent asthma: symptoms appear 2 or more days a week and interrupted sleep 3-4 nights a month
- Moderate persistent asthma: symptoms occur every day and interrupted sleep once or more night a week
- Severe persistent asthma: symptoms occur every day, any time of the day, and interrupted sleep every night.
Classification, according to asthma causes:
- Allergic asthma
- Adult-onset asthma(age over 65years)
- Asthma-COPD overlap
- Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction(EIB)
- Occupational asthma
- Non-allergic asthma
Here are how asthma diagnosed
- Spirometry: measures the amount of air and speed of the air you inhale and exhale. The normal spirometry results: The ratio of Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV1) to Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) is 70%. (65% in persons older than age 65)
- Chest X-ray
- The peak flow meter measures how well the lungs push out air
- Blood test for allergic markers such as eosinophils and immunoglobulin E (IgE) measurement
- FeNO (fractional exhaled nitric oxide): is a breath test used to measure how inflamed the airways are. Normal value in children is: under 20 parts per billion and 25 parts per billion in adults.
Living with asthma
Management of asthma involves lifestyle modifications, avoiding irritants that trigger asthmatic attacks, and taking medications as recommended to prevent status asthmaticus.
- Sleeping position to prevent shortness of breath:
- Lie on your side with a pillow between your legs with your head elevated with pillows.
- Sleep on your back with your head elevated with pillows, and your knees bent with a pillow under your knees.
Avoid irritants such as dust mites (clean your surroundings), pet dander, tobacco smoke, pollen, cold air.
Here are the lists of asthma medications:
- Quick-relief Bronchodilators in forms of inhalers( albuterol, levalbuterol, salbutamol, salmeterol)
- Theophylline pills (theo-24)
- Leukotriene modifiers(montelukast)
- Inhaled steroids (Fluticasone, budesonide, beclometasone)
- Combined steroids and bronchodilators inhalers
- Fluticasone-Salmeterol (Advair Diskus)
- Budesonide-formoterol (Symbicort)