What do you want to know about asthma? Asthma is actually a chronic disease that makes the breathing difficult. It also causes inflammation in the airways. From asthma 24.5 million people in the United States are suffering according to the CDC. 1 child out of every 13 has asthma in America. Among American children it’s the most common chronic condition.
To comprehend asthma, it’s essential to comprehend a little about when you breathe what actually happens. Usually, with each breath we take, through our nose or mouth air goes down into our throat and into our airways, finally making it to our lungs. In our lungs there are many small air passages that assists deliver oxygen from the air into our bloodstream.
When the lining of our airways swell and the muscles around them tighten, the asthma symptoms occur. Airways then filled by the mucus further declining the amount of air that can pass through. Asthma attack (the coughing and tightness in our chest that’s typical of asthma) occur due to these conditions.
What is an asthma attack?
The episode in which bands of muscle around the air ways are triggered to tighten is known as asthma attack. This tightening of the bands of muscle is known as the bronchospasm. The lining of the airways becomes inflamed or swollen during the attack and also the cell lining the airways make the mucus more and thicker than normal. Symptoms caused by the bronchospasm, mucus production and inflammation are the wheezing, trouble breathing, shortness of breath, coughing, and trouble with common daily activities.
Some other symptoms of the asthma attack are following:
Blue lips or fingernails
Pale, sweaty face
Feelings of anxiety and panic
Difficulty in talking
Tightened chest muscles and neck known as retractions
Very rapid breathing
Coughing that won’t stop
During breathing severe wheezing occur.
It’s necessary to analyze and treat these symptoms immediately if an asthma attack can get worse quickly. With bronchodilator and asthma inhaler, without the immediate treatment, it will become difficult to breathe. Utilizing the peak flow meter at that time will probably be made the reading less than 50%.
You won’t be able to utilize the peak flow meter because the lungs continue to tighten. Lungs will tighten so there is no sufficient air movement to make wheezing. You need to go to hospital immediately. Unfortunately, some people don’t get immediate care because they think disappearance of wheezing is the sign of improvement.
Types of Asthma
There are several different types of asthma. Bronchial asthma is the most common type which in the lungs affects the bronchi. Additional forms of asthma are the adult-onset asthma and childhood asthma. Symptoms don’t appear until at least age 20 in adult-onset asthma. Other typical kinds of asthma are explained below.
1. Occupational Asthma
The type of asthma that is induced by the triggers in the workplace is known as the occupational asthma and these include:
Fumes and Gases
In a wide range of industries these irritants can exist, including:
2. Allergic Asthma
Allergic asthma is also known as the extrinsic asthma. This common type of asthma is triggered by the allergens and these might include:
Pet danger from animals like cats and dogs
Allergic asthma goes hand in hand with seasonal allergies because it is often seasonal.
3. Non-Allergic Asthma
Non-allergic asthma is also known as the intrinsic asthma. This type of asthma is triggered by the irritants in the air not related to allergies and these irritants might include:
Household cleaning products
4. Aspirin-Induced Asthma
Aspirin-induced asthma is also known as the aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease and is commonly severe. Aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) triggered the aspirin-induced asthma. Within the minutes or hours the symptoms may begin. With asthma about 9 percent of the people have aspirin-induced asthma. It develops instantly in adults between the ages of 21 to 51.
5. Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction
People are affected by the exercise-induced bronchoconstriction within a few minutes of initiating exercise and up to 12-16 minutes after the physical activity. This condition was formerly recognized as exercise-induced asthma. People with asthma mostly up to the 9 percent experience exercise induced bronchoconstriction.
6. Cough-Variant Asthma
Cough-variant asthma is a type of asthma that does not have classic asthma symptoms of shortness of breath and coughing. It is identified by a persistent, dry cough.
If it’s not analyzed, cough-variant asthma can lead to full-blown asthma flares that involve the other general symptoms.
7. Nocturnal Asthma
Symptoms worsen at night in this type of asthma. Triggers that bring on the symptoms at night include:
Our natural sleep cycle of the body also trigger nocturnal asthma.
Symptoms of Asthma
The major common symptoms of asthma are wheezing, a whistling or squealing sound made during breathing.
Some other symptoms of asthma are:
Anxiousness or panic
Difficulty in talking
Tightness in the chest
Coughing especially at night.
Not every individual with asthma will experience these mentioned symptoms. Make an appointment with doctor if you think the symptoms you are feeling could be a sign of a condition like asthma.
Probably worsening signs of asthma include:
Asthma symptoms that are more recurring and bothersome
Difficulty in breathing increases, as measured with a device utilized to examine how well the lungs are functioning (peak flow meter)
The need to utilized a rapid-relief inhaler more often
Asthma symptoms flare up in certain situations for many people:
Exercise-induced asthma: This type of asthma mostly worsen when the air is cold and dry
Occupational asthma: This type of asthma mostly triggered by workplace irritants such as dust and gases.
Allergy-induced asthma: Airborne substances, such as mold spores, pollen cockroach waste, or particles of skin and dried saliva shed by pets (pet dander).
To determine if the symptoms are the result of asthma doctor will utilize a variety of criteria because there’s no single test that will examine if you or your child has asthma.
To diagnose asthma the following can help:
If you are living in a family whose members are suffering from breathing disorder, risk for having asthma is higher. Talk to your doctor about this genetic connection.
With a stethoscope doctor will listen to the breathing. To look for signs of an allergic reaction such as eczema or hives you may also be given a skin test. Allergies enhances your risk for asthma.
Airflow into and out of your lungs is measured by the pulmonary function tests (PFTs). For the most usual test, spirometry, the individual blow into a device that determines the speed of the air.
In children under 5 years of age doctors don’t generally perform breathing tests because it’s not easy to get an accurate reading.
Instead, they may recommend asthma medications to child and wait to see if symptoms ameliorate. If the symptoms improve, child probably has asthma. Doctor may recommend a bronchodilator or other asthma medication if test results show asthma. If symptoms ameliorate with the utilization of this medication, your doctor will continue to examine your condition as asthma.
To help treat and diagnose asthma, the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) categorized the condition based on its severity before treatment.
Asthma classifications include:
This type of asthma doesn’t interfere with daily activities. Most people have this kind of asthma. Symptoms of this kind of asthma are mild, lasting fewer than two days per week or two nights per month.
The symptom does not occur daily. The symptoms occur more than twice a week and up to three to four nights per month.
This type of asthma may limit some daily activities. The symptoms of this type of asthma occur daily and at least one night every week, but not nightly.
The symptoms occur many times every day and most of the nights. Daily activities are exceedingly limited.
Causes of Asthma
For asthma no single cause has been recognized. It is caused by the combination of the environmental and genetic factors. Causes of asthma due to the genetic factors include:
This theory describes that when babies are not manifested to sufficient bacteria in their early months and year so their immune system don’t become powerful enough to fight off the asthma.
You are more likely to have asthma, If your any family member is suffering from asthma.
History of viral infections
During the childhood people with a history of severe viral infections like RSV may be more likely to have asthma.
Causes of asthma due to environmental factors include:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), this is a disease in which stomach acids back up into throat
Preservatives and Sulfites added to some kinds of beverages and food, including dried fruit, shrimp, processed potatoes, wine and beer.
Strong emotions and stress
Certain medications, including aspirin, beta blockers, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve)
Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke
Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
Airborne allergens, such as dust mites, pollen and mold spores etc.
Asthma can be treated by the following three categories:
Long-term asthma control medications
Based on the type of asthma you have, your age and your triggers, your doctor will recommend one treatment or combination of treatments.
You can get more air into and out of lungs by the help of breathing exercises. With the passage of time, this may assists enhance lung capacity and eliminate severe asthma symptoms.
You can learn breathing exercises for asthma by the help of your doctor or an occupational therapist.
Quick-relief asthma treatments
Medications for the quick-relief from asthma should only be utilized in the event of asthma symptoms or an attack. They give quick relief to assist you breathe again.
To relax the tightened muscles around your airwaves bronchodilators work within minutes. Bronchodilators can be taken as a nebulizer or an inhaler.
First aid asthma treatment
If there is any person in your contact who is suffering from asthma attack, tell them to sit upright and help them in utilizing their nebulizer or inhaler. To ease their symptoms two to six puffs of medication should help. Seek emergency medical attention if symptoms lasts for more than 20 minutes and the medication does not provide relieve. For long-term asthma control you should ask your doctor about medication, if you frequently need to utilize quick-relief medications.
Long-term asthma control medications
Long-term asthma control medications don’t manage the immediate symptoms of an attack. These medications, taken daily, help decline the number and intensity of asthma symptoms.
Medications for the long-term asthma control include the following:
By the help of anti-inflammatory medications we can reduce the swelling and mucus production in the airways and it makes the breathing easier. This medication is taken with an inhaler.
Anticholinergics help in stopping the muscles from tightening around airwaves. They’re usually taken daily with anti-inflammatories.
Long-acting bronchodilators should only be utilized in combination with anti-inflammatory asthma medications.
Biologic therapy drugs
To treat the severe asthma, biologic therapy drugs may help people.
In bronchial thermoplasty treatment an electrode is used to heat the airwaves inside the lungs, helping to decline the size of the muscle and stop it from tightening.
Bronchial thermoplasty is used for people with severe asthma. It isn’t hugely available.
Exacerbation or an asthma attack is a condition in which asthma symptoms get progressively worse. It becomes increasingly hard to breathe because in this condition airways are swollen and bronchial tubes have narrowed.
Exacerbation includes the following symptoms:
Increased heart rate
Shortness of breath
Although without medication, an exacerbation can end quickly. Exacerbation can be life threatening and due to that you should contact your doctor.
The longer an exacerbation persists, the more it can affect our ability to breathe and due to that exacerbations often need a trip to the emergency room. Exacerbations can be cured by taking medications that assist manage your asthma symptoms.
Asthma vs. COPD
Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are commonly mistaken for one another. Result of the asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are also similar including coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing. But, the two conditions are quite different.
COPD is an umbrella term used to recognize a group of progressive respiratory diseases that include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Due to the inflammation in the airways these diseases cause reduced airflow. Over time the conditions may worsen.
At any age asthma can occur with a diagnoses coming in childhood. In most people COPD is diagnosed at least at age 45. The risk of having both conditions increases with age.
What causes asthma is not clear besides genetics, but asthma attacks occur because of the exposure to triggers, such as physical activity or smells. Breathing problems are made worse due to these triggers. Smoking is the most common cause of COPD. 9 out of 10 COPD-related deaths are because of the smoking. The goal of treatment for both COPD and asthma is to eliminate symptoms so you can maintain an active lifestyle.
It’s not easy to know how to prevent the inflammatory conditions. Researchers have yet to recognize the exact cause of asthma.
The strategies to prevent asthma include:
Stay away from chemicals, smells, or products that have caused breathing issues in the past.
Reducing exposure to allergens
If you’ve recognized allergens, such as mold or dust, avoid them as best you can because they trigger an asthma attack.
Getting allergy shots
A type of treatment that may help change your immune system is the allergen immunotherapy. With daily shots, your body may become less sensitive to any triggers you come across.
Taking preventive medication
Your doctor may recommend medication for you to take on a daily basis. This medication may be utilized in addition to the one you utilized in case of an immediate need.
Your doctor can assists you put an asthma action plan in place so that you know which treatments to utilize and when.
With using maintenance medications, you can also take steps each day to assists make yourself healthier and decrease your risk for asthma attacks and these include:
Eating a healthier diet
Eating a balanced, healthy diet can assists improve your overall health.
Maintaining a healthy weight
In people with obesity and overweight asthma tends to be worse. Losing weight is healthy for your joints, your lungs, and your hearts.
Cigarette and smoke can trigger asthma and enhance your risk for COPD.
An asthma attack can be triggered by an activity, but regular exercise may actually assist decrease the risk of breathing issues.
For asthma symptoms stress can be a trigger. Stress makes it more difficult to prevent an asthma attack. Nutrient-rich foods are important to helping decrease symptoms, but food allergies can trigger asthma symptoms.
When to see a doctor
At the moment, there’s no treatment for asthma. But, there are many essential treatments that can reduce asthma symptoms. Lifestyle alterations and medications can also assist improve your quality of life.
If you are experiencing symptoms of asthma like coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath but you haven’t been diagnosed with asthma you should let your doctor know. Using the Healthline FindCare tool you can connect to a physician in your area.
Once it is confirmed that you are suffering from asthma, you should see your doctor at least once a year or more frequently if you have consistent symptoms after using treatments.
Call your doctor instantly if you:
Have a wheeze or cough that won’t go away
Can’t perform daily activities
It’s necessary to teach yourself about your condition and its symptoms. The more you have knowledge, the more energetic you can be in improving your lung function and how you feel.
Talk with your doctor about:
Your treatment plan for an asthma attack
What daily treatments are best for you
What triggers your symptoms
Your type of asthma
Is it safe to use an asthma inhaler if we don’t have asthma?
It is not advised to use any medication for a condition that you do not have. But, for the asthma inhalers the risks are relatively low contrasted to something like diabetic medication for instance, which may cause a threatening drop in blood sugar. To relieve spasms in the airway muscles the bronchodilator inhaler or relieve medication is used.
The inhaler will have no effect on the airways if you don’t have spasms but it have potential side effects involving a racing heart beat and feeling very quivering. The inhaled steroid inhalers will in the same way have no advantageous effect except enhance the risk for conditions like osteoporosis, oral candida and cataracts importantly if utilized at high doses over a large period of time.
How does an asthma inhaler work?
There are several physical kinds of inhalers-dry powder inhalers, pressured sprays and capsule inhalers and these differ according to the medication they contain and the company making them. There are three main classes of medication carried in inhalers:
For rescue short-acting bronchodilators are utilized, when the chest is tight-these open up the airways.
Backbone of all the asthma treatments is the inhaled steroids. Inhaled steroids target and decrease the inflammation the in the airways making them less expected to go into spasm.
Controllers are usually long-acting bronchodilators that assist control symptoms.
Inhaling medication is most efficacious because it goes directly to the lungs where the issue is, declines the side effects and enhances the effect of the medication.
How to Treat an Asthma attack without an Inhaler
You will commonly use your inhaler to feel comfortable, when you have asthma. But in an area where you can’t get to your medication you may have an attack. There are some things that you can do to breathe comfortably when your inhaler is not in your reach. Try the following techniques if you are having an attack, or you feel one coming.
1. Sit Up
Don’t lie down when an attack hits. If you lie down or even if you only bend over, it could restrict the breathing more.
2. Focus on your Breathing
There are various methods that you can utilize so that you’re ready if the moment comes. They can also assist you are not having an attack.
The Buteyko method instructs you to breathe steadily and comfortably through your nose rather through mouth. The air in your body will stay moist and warm if you utilize this technique. When you breathe this assists your airways become less sensitive.
The papworth method utilizes relaxation and breathing exercises to assist you learn experts breathing patterns. It motivates more relaxed breathing and when you take air in it makes you more aware of the muscles you utilize. For instance you will use your nose and diaphragm instead of your mouth chest. The papworth method also instructs how to change your breathing according to the activity you are performing.
Speak with your doctor because both of these methods take time to learn and you will need to utilize each in order for them to assist with your asthma.
3. Stay away from triggers
Some things in your home or around you can make your asthma severe. Try to stay away from the following things as much as you can if you are having an attack or even if you are not.
People with common cold
Preservatives in drinks and foods
Pollen, mold, pet dander and dust
Some drugs like beta-blockers, aspirin, naproxen sodium and ibuprofen
4. Take some honey
The honey will assist get rid of phlegm in your throat, If you take a spoonful of it or mix it into a glass of water. That can permit you to breathe comfortably. It’s a best idea to have honey before you go to bed, even when you are not having an attack. You will sleep better when it gets rid of the phlegm in your throat. That can assist you wake up refreshed.
5. Drink Caffeine
A soda, coffee, tea or other drinks with caffeine can assist your airways open. A little amount of caffeine can assist you breathe better for up to 3 hours. We need more research to know if the caffeinated drinks can permanently assist with asthma symptoms.
6. Use Eucalyptus oil
In a bowl of boiled water put a couple of drops and breathe in the steam to assist clear out blocked passageways. It can also collapse the mucus.
You can put some drops on a towel and lay it near to your nose while you sleep to assist you get better rest. Before you try it talk to your doctor about this because some products with eucalyptus oil also carry chemicals that can incense asthma in some people.
7. Try Mustard oil
From mustard seeds warmed-up oil can assist you breathe. The warmed-up oil opens your passageways and assists your lungs work after you the oil on your chest. It is protective, so you can utilize it as much as you need to feel comfortable.
Can We Get an Asthma Inhaler Over the Counter?
To treat asthma there is no shortcut method, but if rapid relief is needed, there are OTC options available to provide relief. FDA-approved over-the-counter metered-dose inhaler is only the Primatene Mist. Primatene mist is suggested for mild symptoms of spasmodic asthma.
Even though over the counter asthma inhalers are accessible, specialists say that they are not the good option for asthma. But, some people select this route due to lack of insurance or for rapid relief.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding what do you want to know about asthma.
Q1. What is a fact about asthma?
Asthma is actually a chronic disease that makes the breathing difficult. It also causes inflammation in the airways. From asthma 24.5 million people in the United States are suffering according to the CDC.
Q2. What drink is good for asthma?
Ginger is good for asthma and research suggests that ginger may assist relieve asthma symptoms. Test-tube studies using human cells show that ginger compounds, such as shogaols and gingerols may eliminate asthma symptoms by decreasing airway inflammation.
Q3. What foods are bad for asthma?
Foods that are bad for asthma are following:
Shrimp and other shellfish
Q4. How can I make my lungs stronger with asthma?
You can make your lungs stronger with asthma by the following technique:
Pursed lip breathing
The Papworth method
Q5. Why is Vicks bad for asthma?
Vicks is bad for asthma because according to the Rubin the ingredients in vicks can be irritants, causing the body to produce more mucus to defend the airway, and young children and infants have airways that are much narrower than those of adults, so any increase in mucus or inflammation can narrow them more critically.
Asthma is actually a chronic disease that makes the breathing difficult. The episode in which bands of muscle around the air ways are triggered to tighten is known as asthma attack. There are several different types of asthma and these are allergic asthma, non-allergic asthma, occupational asthma, exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, aspirin-induced asthma, nocturnal asthma and cough-variant asthma.
The major common symptoms of asthma are wheezing, a whistling or squealing sound made during breathing. To diagnose asthma health history, physical exam and breathing test may help. Asthma is caused by the combination of the environmental and genetic factors. Environmental factors include the air pollutants, cold air and physical activity etc. and the genetic factors include the hygiene hypothesis and history of viral infections. By breathing exercises, quick-acting treatments and long-term asthma control medications asthma can be treated.