What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by inflamed, swollen and narrowed airways, making breathing difficult. Although no cure has been found for asthma, it can be controlled.
If you are asthmatic, you have sensitive airways that react to certain factors such as stress, infection (flu, common colds), dust, mites, feathers, cigarette smoke, and changes in the weather. These can trigger the swelling and the narrowing of your airways.
No one really knows exactly what causes asthma. In asthma, the irritation of your ultra sensitive airways results to the three changes:
- cells in your air passages produce excessively thick and sticky mucus that tends to clog your airways
- your air passages swell or become inflamed
- the muscles in your airways constrict and tighten
These changes cause your air passages to narrow or constrict, causing difficulty in breathing, wheezing, and tightness in the chest.
- take only asthma medications prescribed by your doctor
- do not take cough medicines
- if your attack is caused by a bacterial infection, take the appropriate antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
- if your symptoms persist, or you are experiencing a moderate attack or a severe one, get emergency help right away.
- take controllers (as prescribed by physician)
- know the signs and symptoms of an incoming acute asthma attack
- know what trigger your asthma attack
- avoid triggers
- coughing a lot during exercise or even during rest after exercising
- shortness of breath
- wheezing when breathing
- tightening of the chest
There are numerous causes that "trigger" your asthma attack. However, these can be divided into three major groups:
Allergens - the largest group includes common "triggers" like pollen, molds, mildew, cockroaches, feathers, and dust mites.
Irritants - this group are found in common household items such as acrosol sprays, cleaning products, and perfumes. Tobacco smoke, air pollution and industrial chemicals also belong to this group.
Physical Conditions - this group includes exercise, weather changes and emotional stress. It also includes viral infections like common cold and flu.
Asthma attacks may start suddenly, or may take days to develop. Attacks range from mild, moderate to severe.
Mild-to-moderate attacks - are more common. There is a feeling of tightness in your chest and you may start coughing and spitting out mucus or phlegm. You may also feel restless or irritable and have difficulty sleeping. You oftentimes make a whistling or wheezing sound when you are breathing air in and out, which may be due to narrowed air tubes.
Several Attacks - during severe attacks you may become breathless and may have difficulty talking. Your neck muscles become tight as you breathe. Your lips and fingernails may have a grayish and bluish color. Your breathing becomes more forceful, usually accompanied by the upward movements of your chest.
Source: Department of Health