Asthma is a chronic airway disease that involves episodic attacks of breathing difficulty, coughing, and tightness in chest or wheezing. Asthma may be caused by such factors as Asthmaallergies, cold air, respiratory infections, environmental pollution and smoke, humidity or sudden changes in temperature, as well as strenuous exercise.

In very rare cases, asthma may be caused by psychological and emotional distress. During an asthma attack, the muscles become tight around the tubes inside and leading to the lungs, and the lining of the tubes become inflamed and swollen. Frequently thick mucus accumulates in the airways as well. In all situations airflow is limited, and emptying the lungs of air becomes particularly difficult.

These attacks may last from few minutes to few days. In most cases the asthma attacks are mild or moderate. However, in patients with severely limited airflow may be life-threatening. By using needed drugs and avoiding triggers (which cause asthma), most individuals may lead a healthy, active lifestyle.

Asthma significantly increases in early childhood and affects about 10% of all children, possibly because of a rise in both indoor and outdoor pollution. Boys by age 10 are twice more likely than girls to have asthma. Asthma can be inherited, but individuals with allergies are most likely to develop this disease at some point. Among the allergies that causes attacks are dust mites, pollens, some kind of food, mold, and animal dander. Some individuals exposed to large amounts of gasoline, smoke, fresh paint can have often attacks of asthma.

What are the Symptoms of Asthma?

The symptoms of asthma include: noisy breathing, coughing, shortness of breath, labored breathing and tightness in the chest. People with severe attacks experience rapid and shallow breathing, skin becomes pale, heartbeat quickens. In these cases, using accessory neck and abdominal muscles may be needed to support breathing. Asthma is usually diagnosed by a physician only after few attacks have occurred. Various tests are performed to help differentiate asthma from other respiratory illnesses.

Asthma Treatment

Asthma attacks are treated with a short-acting bronchodilator such as Ventolin, Proventil, which opens the airways by relaxing smooth muscle. Prednisolone and Prednison in an inhaler or oral form decrease inflammation, which is a key mechanism of asthma attacks. Once the asthma attack is controlled, the doctor can prescribe maintenance drugs, such as Intal, which decreases the chances to inflame airways. Corticosteroids are usually continued on maintenance basis, in the inhalable form such as Beclovent, Vanceril; long-term treatment with oral preparations should be avoided if possible, because they may cause adverse side effects. Many asthma drugs are available in aerosol form and are usually inhaled into the lungs in prescribed amounts through a metered-dose inhaler. The medications are also available in syrups and tablet forms. Nose sprays such as Vancenase and Beconase may help dry up the runny and stuffy nose which frequently accompanies allergic asthma. Many asthma medications are considered safe for use in pregnant women. If antibiotics are given to treat upper respiratory infections that may trigger asthma (Tetracycline or Sulfa medications) should be avoided because of adverse effects on the fetus.

Corticosteroids in inhaler form are preferred over oral forms during pregnancy. Some individuals with known allergies received Desensitization shots to lower susceptibility to allergens. Patients with asthma require to be under physician’s supervision. Asthma may not be prevented. Decrease the frequency of asthma attacks, the affected patients should to reduce or eliminate exposure to anything known to trigger them.

How an Asthma Attack Occurs:

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