Asthma 101

Asthma 101

Most people know someone who has asthma, or they themselves have asthma.  It is a very common condition that occurs when the airways narrow and swell, which can cause production of extra mucus.  Some people are only mildly affected by asthma, whereas others may not be able to perform day to day activities due to asthma.  In some cases, asthma may even be life-threatening.  Unfortunately, asthma is not curable and, thus, a lifelong condition.  However, the symptoms of asthma can be treated to a tolerable level.

Asthma can look different in all people.  Some people can feel they have symptoms at all times, whereas others may only notice symptoms under certain conditions.  The main symptoms include having a hard time breathing, chest tightness, wheezing sound when exhaling and coughing attacks.  For some people, their asthma stays the same throughout the years, whereas others may notice their symptoms worsening.  Those who only notice symptoms, some of the time, may notice their symptoms are more likely to appear during exercise, when around fumes, pollens, or other irritants, or when they are particularly stressed.

Unfortunately, it is not fully known why some people develop asthma.  However, certain factors may put one person more at risk than others.  For example, people are more likely to develop asthma if they have a relative with asthma, if they have another allergic condition, if they are overweight, smoke, or have strong exposure to exhaust fumes or pollen, or if they have occupational triggers such as exposure to certain chemicals in hairdressing and manufacturing.  Asthma can be a very dangerous condition that can lead to poor sleep, increased sick days, narrowing of the bronchial tubes, hospitalization, and in some cases, even death.

There is no known way to prevent asthma because the exact cause is unknown.  However, it is important for proper treatment to occur once symptoms begin to emerge.  Staying up to date on vaccinations, identifying potential triggers, following your asthma treatment plan, and taking your medication as prescribed are all key to ensuring your asthma does not worsen.  Asthma can be classified in a variety of different ways depending on how serious and how common the attacks are.  Ensuring you are away from pollutants and in fresh air as often as possible is one of the most important steps to controlling or even avoiding asthma in the future.

Asthma can be a very difficult condition to live with.  While some people may have very mild symptoms, other people may have symptoms so severe that it interferes with their day to day life.  Long term medications such as inhalers and oral medications can make a world of difference to those suffering from severe asthma.  Developing a plan of action for when an asthma attack does occur is important in good asthma treatment.  If you suspect you or a loved one may have asthma, it is important to get into the care of a doctor immediately.  Left untreated, asthma can cause permanent damage and even death.

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