Asthma is a common chronic respiratory disease that can put otherwise healthy people out of work, and sometimes even kill. Know more about this common health concern that is affecting more and more people each year worldwide.
What are asthma signs and symptoms?
Asthma shows up differently in different people. Usually, asthma symptoms are persistent and do not go away, especially with these common signs:
- Frequent coughing, respiratory infections or chest colds
- Wheezing (in children)
- Chest tightness and pressure, or chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sleep disturbances from breathing difficulty
What causes asthma?
Millions of Indians need respiratory care because asthma developed and became chronic due to environmental and lifestyle reasons. Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition accompanied by breathing difficulty.
If you have asthma, the insides of your airways are swollen causing shortness of breath. They are filled with a sticky substance called mucous. Inflammation narrows your airways and bronchial tubes, leading to reversible breathing obstruction. Air passages are easily triggered by external stimuli, causing them to get narrower. This is why chronic asthma patients may have blocked airways, making breathing impossible.
Is there a cure for asthma?
No, there is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled. Asthma is best treated by controlling and preventing the symptoms.
Asthma treatment centres have doctors that specialise only in treating asthma. Doctors prescribe inhalers to asthma patients to give quick relief by relaxing the muscles around the airways. But there are long-term solutions as well. Taking the right medicine and dose for you is important for good lung function and preventing asthma attacks.
Childhood asthma can cure itself with age. Sometimes young children with asthma grow out of it later, probably because the lungs get larger. But adults who develop asthma tend to have the condition for life.
Is asthma fatal?
Environment plays a big role in how badly an asthma patient suffers.
Asthma is a chronic breathing condition and it can kill when it goes untreated. As air pollution, water pollution and food allergies increase, the number of asthma cases also spikes.
How do you manage asthma?
Stay attack-free by knowing your triggers. Managing asthma is a combination of avoiding asthma triggers and taking your doctor’s prescription medication.
- Smoking and Pollution: Polluted air and smoking, including passive smoking, can trigger asthma. Healthy people often see asthmatic signs develop. Avoid congested urban areas without a pollution mask.
- Heat and Humidity: Heat and humidity are just the beginning of people with mild asthma. If you live in a tropical climate, you should install an air conditioner and dehumidifier for your home.
- Air Quality: Asthma symptoms get worse around pollen, dust particles, pet dander, minuscule air particles, smog, spores, and similar triggers. Install an air purifier in your home if you live with a baby, infant or an asthma patient.
- Common Cold and Flu: Any increase in the mucus in the airways and respiratory system will aggravate conditions in asthma patients. When you catch a cold, you are chances of getting an asthma flare-up will increase. Some people only get asthma when they have a cold or during exercise.
- Yoga: Instead of gym exercises and sports that exert pressure on your breathing, choose yoga. Learn a few yoga poses with breathing exercises that help you to overcome asthma naturally.
- Medication: There are 2 types of asthma medication: One that brings immediate relief and the other for long-term control. They are doctor-prescribed asthma control medications that stop flare-ups. Allergy shots are also useful; it is a form of immunotherapy that alleviates asthma symptoms.
Take home message
Most asthma patients live with the disease throughout their adult life. But taking charge of your asthma is key in determining how much you enjoy your life. If you have been diagnosed with asthma, focus on alleviating the symptoms and preventing asthma attacks. See an allergist or asthma specialist immediately to start your asthma treatment programme, or connect with one of our experts.