Asthma is a non-communicable inflammatory disease of the lungs airways characterized by difficulty in breathing otherwise known as wheezing thereby making physical activity almost impossible.
An asthma attack occurs when the lining of your airways swells causing the muscles around the airways to tighten. There is increased mucus secretion which fills the airways and making it difficult for air to pass through.
It is recommended that asthma sufferers identify their triggers. It can be extremely impossible to avoid these triggers but planning and recognizing these triggers will help to minimize the risk of asthma attacks. The causes of asthma are unknown, certain conditions have been put forward as triggers and they include;
- Allergens such as dust mites, pollen, pets
- Irritants such as chemicals, strong and irritating smell and smoke
- Extreme weather conditions such as high humidity or low temperature
- Cigarette smoke
- Certain drugs such as aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other drugs such as beta-blockers used in treating heart diseases
- Emotional stress
It is also possible not to have triggers in some asthma sufferers. Some people with asthma experience more severe symptoms when they have chest infections while some people with mild to moderate asthma are without symptoms. Typical symptoms of asthma include;
- Coughing, mostly at night, during physical activity or when laughing
- Wheezing when breathing
- Tightness of chest
- Shortness of breath
An asthma diagnosis is confirmed by your doctor based on presenting symptoms using either a spirometry test or peak flow meter to check your lung function. Treatment is usually initiated by your doctor or asthma nurses and it focuses on preventing inflammation and relaxing the muscles lining the airways using appropriately prescribed inhalers (‘preventer’ which as used daily to prevent symptoms occurring and ‘reliever’ which are used for short time relieve of acute asthma symptoms) in addition to other medications.
Taking steps to live a healthy life in addition to the use of recommended inhalers and medication can also minimize risk of asthma attacks.
Healthy lifestyles such as the following have been recommended;
- Healthy eating and avoiding food that can cause trigger
- Maintaining a healthy weight as being overweight or obese can make breathing worse
- Smoking cessation is highly recommended if you smoke as cigarette smoking is a risk factor to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (another respiratory disease)
- Regular physical activity can help reduce breathing difficulty. Exercise also helps to improve energy, mood and relieve stress levels. The use of reliever inhaler is recommended before exercise to minimize the chances of an asthma attack
- Manage stress and anxiety
It is also important to know your inhaler techniques for press and breathe inhalers otherwise known as metered-dose inhalers (MDI), how to use any device recommended with your inhalers, the difference between preventer and reliever inhalers and their correct use including recommended dosage.
Asthma is not curable but can be managed. Speak to your doctors or other healthcare professionals if symptoms get worse, tightness of chest and difficulty in breathing.
Please note that contents of Pharmahealthtalk health advice and healthy tips are no substitute for any advice recommended by your doctor or other healthcare professionals. Always seek a medical opinion for your health conditions.