- What is asthma?
- How common is asthma?
- Who is at risk of developing asthma?
- What are the symptoms?
- What can trigger an attack?
- How dangerous is asthma?
- Is it hereditary?
- What can be done to avoid asthma symptoms?
- How is it treated?
- What should be done in case of an attack?
Asthma is a chronic condition that affects your breathing and often leads to coughing, wheezing and breathlessness. People with asthma tend to be more sensitive to particular elements in their environment which leads to an immune reaction that causes the bronchioles, the tubes that lead air directly in and out of the lungs, to constrict and reduce the flow of air.
It can be a serious condition if it’s not managed properly.
Asthma is extremely common in the UK and currently 5.4 million people in the UK are receiving treatment. It’s growing at a rapid rate among children, which make up 50% of cases.
It’s believed that people are born with a predisposition to develop asthma, but there are also factors that are thought to make people more prone to get asthma. Those who are thought to be at a higher risk of developing this condition are children born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy, children born prematurely, people who had bronchitis during childhood, people with other types of allergies, or children with a below average birth weight.
Asthma symptoms may include a feeling of breathlessness, a tight feeling around the chest, wheezing when breathing and coughing (particularly at night or during the early morning). These symptoms might be triggered by exercise or other triggers such as pollen, for example. These symptoms can get worse to the point where a full blown asthma attack develops.
An asthma attack can be triggered by many different compounds and activities, but the most commonly reported irritants to cause an attack are smoke (from smoking or bonfires), traffic fumes, animal dander, dust mites, pollen, industrial fumes, household chemicals, natural gasses, perfumes, strong scents, strenuous exercise and medications.
Severe asthma attacks can be extremely dangerous, because they can inhibit the airflow to the lungs to such an extent that a person can lose the ability to breathe. It’s generally advised that you do not ignore asthma symptoms if they start becoming worse and you should seek immediate medical help immediately, even if you are using asthma treatments.
There is no definite cause of asthma attacks, but it’s generally understood that it runs in families.
Asthma symptoms can possibly be avoided by steering clear of known asthma triggers and by ensuring that you use the preventative treatments if they’ve been prescribed. Ensuring that you maintain a healthy lifestyle can also help reduce the likelihood of a reaction leading to symptoms, Regular medication reviews by your doctor will ensure that you are using the right medicine for your current situation.
Asthma can be treated using medications known as preventers and relievers. Preventers are used as long term treatments to lower a person’s sensitivity to asthma triggers and the likelihood of inflammation of the airways occurring. These treatments are mostly steroids in an inhalable form, but there are also other methods in which they can be delivered to the system. Relievers work to relax muscles in the airways to allow a person to breathe better, offering relief from their symptoms.
Most people with asthma are taught to recognise the symptoms of an impending attack, so that quick action can be taken. All the steps will normally be laid out in an asthma action plan, devised by the sufferer and their doctor. However, if symptoms start becoming worse it’s recommended that emergency services be contacted.