Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition which causes a sufferer to experience breathing difficulties when they come into contact with irritants in their environment. If this happens, you may experience a narrowing of the airways and a build-up of phlegm or mucus, making it extremely difficult to breath. Asthma is becoming increasingly common, especially in children, and affects around 5.4 million people in the UK.
Luckily, this condition can be managed by taking oral medications or inhalers. These can be used to either prevent an asthma attack or to provide relief during an asthma attack. Sometimes oral or injectable steroids can be used if you experience a serious attack. HealthExpress offers a wide range of asthma treatments, so that you can find one to suit your personal needs.
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When an asthmatic person comes into contact with irritants, particularly those that are likely to stimulate a reaction of the bronchial muscles such as pollen or smoke, it causes a narrowing of the smallest tubes connected to the lungs, the bronchioles. Bronchioles are able to contract and expand when relaxed.
If the ring-like muscles of the bronchioles contract, they reduce airflow which means that air cannot get through. This happens during an attack, but the effects are worsened as inflammation of the inner lining of the bronchioles occurs, leading to excess mucous production and further obstruction.
An asthma treatment may prevent bronchioles from becoming inflamed and can help relax and widen the airways during an attack.
Most people with the condition were born with a predisposition to develop it, although it is believed that there are various factors that could result in a person being more likely to develop asthma. Some research suggests that children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are more prone to develop asthma. Other specialists think that a lack of exposure to irritants at an early age leads to intolerances later in life, while pollution has also been named as a factor.
An actual attack only occurs when you find it extremely difficult to breathe. In most cases, you may experience the symptoms of asthma without them actually causing an attack.
Asthmatic people tend to be sensitive to moulds, some types of foods, dust mites, chemicals, some viruses or bacteria, anti-inflammatory treatments not containing steroids, certain scents, pollutants or smoke. Strenuous exercise can also lead to an attack. However, many other factors could lead to an attack so it's important to know what these are and to avoid them where possible.
If you experience shortness of breath, wheezing, tightness of the chest or coughing with mucus after coming in contact with any of the above-mentioned stimulants, it might be worth visiting your doctor. Asthmatic people are also likely to experience these symptoms at night when they are sleeping, without actively coming in to contact with a particular irritant. Even if your symptoms are mild, getting treatment to avert a potentially more serious attack could be lifesaving.
If you think you have asthma, then visit your doctor who will be able to carry out a number of tests for the condition. These include spirometry, a peak expiratory flow rate test and a airway responsiveness test. All tests are aimed at determining how well your lungs are functioning. A treatment will be recommended on this basis.
"Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that causes inflammation in the airways and sensitivity to irritants. It has the potential to be very dangerous, which is why effective management is incredibly important."Dr Hilary Jones
HealthExpress Medical Advisor
Most commonly asthma treatment will involve inhalers, which come in two groups, preventers or relievers. Preventers are recommended for daily use and aim to reduce airway sensitivity, swelling and mucous production in response to irritants. Relievers, such as Ventolin, relax and open airways during an attack. Sometimes a reliever as well as a preventer can be used during an attack to help deal with the obstruction as well as the inflammation. Both forms of treatment are available to buy at HealthExpress.
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