Asthma Symptoms, Attack and Treatment: A Bird’s Eye View
Asthma, as we all know, is related to breathlessness or difficulty in breathing. One of the most common asthma symptoms in both adults and children is that it becomes difficult for them to breathe. While for a few, asthma can be a minor nuisance, for others, it could pose a major problem in their daily activities which can also result in a life-threatening asthma attack.
However, in the majority of the cases, asthma attack symptoms majorly include some breathing problems. Asthma is an incurable disease, but its symptoms can be controlled as asthma changes with time. This makes it indispensable to track your symptoms and signs from time to time and take the necessary asthma treatment as your doctor prescribes.
Now that you have got an overview of what and how asthma is, it is time to dive a bit deeper into it.
Symptoms of Asthma
The asthma attack symptoms include the following:
- wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing)
- a tight chest or coughing
- coughing or wheezing attacks due to a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu Many elements can be considered as symptoms, but they're more likely to be asthma if they:
- happen often and keep coming back
- deteriorate at night and early in the morning
- seem to happen as a result of an exercise or an allergy (such as to pollen or animal fur)
Causes of Asthma
Various genetic and environmental factors are considered to cause asthma. However, the severity of the causes differs in each individual and they are as follows:
As you know, allergies develop when your body becomes sensitive to a specific substance. Once the sensitization occurs, you become susceptible to an allergic reaction each time you come into contact with that substance called allergen.
However, not every asthematic person is known to have an allergy. If you have an allergic reaction, exposure to those specific allergens are likely to trigger an asthma attack.
2. Environmental Factors
Environmental elements especially, air pollution, both inside and outside of your home can foster the development and triggers of asthma.
Some inside the home allergens include:
- animal hair and dander
- fumes from household cleaners and paints
Other external triggers can be:
- air pollution from traffic and other sources
- ground-level ozone
While you are equipped in the daily hustle-bustle of work and other chores, stress slowly steps in. Stress can be one of the various reasons, if you continuously face asthma attack symptoms.
Other emotional reactions like immense anger, excitement, laughter etc. can also trigger an asthma attack. Also, if you are suffering from mental health conditions such as depression, you are prone to have asthma and a long-term stress may lead to epigenetic changes that result in chronic asthma.
4. Hormonal Factors
As per a report, around 5.5% of males and 9.7% of females have asthma. However, symptoms of asthma in females may vary according to their reproductive stage and point in the menstrual cycle.
For instance, symptoms may worsen during menstruation during the reproductive years and it is known as perimenstrual asthma. You can expect asthma symptoms to improve during menopause.
5. Tobacco Smoking
Needless to say, cigarette smoking can trigger asthma symptoms and other tobacco-related lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Even if you don’t smoke, asthma can cause damage to your lungs.
Various medical studies claim that there are higher levels of asthma in people with obesity than those without it. But, if children with obesity lose weight, they can witness significant improvements in their asthma symptoms as it hasn’t become severe yet.
7. Genetic Factors
As per a government verified report, it is claimed that asthma runs in families. It can be easily inherited from your forefathers and scientists have mapped out some of the genetic changes that may play a role in its development. In a few cases, epigenetic changes are responsible, which occur when an environmental factor causes a gene to change.
Now that you know that your genes can come into play in regards to your inheritance of asthma, it is better to be prepared beforehand with a gene test. LongiFIT Test by Bione dives deep into your genetic structure to provide insights into how your body responds to various food intakes, energy outputs, predisposition to diseases and a lot more. So, why not stay ahead by discovering what works best for you, purely based on your DNA?
Effective Treatment of Asthma
To be able to effectively manage or cure asthma, you must routinely track your symptoms and measure how well your lungs are working. So, if you want to maintain long-term asthma control, prevent asthma attacks and avoid long-term lung problems, you must follow the below-mentioned three important steps:
1. Track your symptoms
Maintain a diary & write down your symptoms in it each day. By doing so, you can recognize when you need to make treatment adjustments according to your asthma action plan. Symptoms that you can include are:
- Shortness of breath, disturbed sleep
- Chest tightness or pain
- Record how many puffs you consume of the quick-relief (rescue) inhaler use
- Disruptions in day-to-day activities caused by asthma symptoms
- Asthma symptoms during exercise
- Changes in color of phlegm you cough up
- Hay fever symptoms like sneezing and a runny nose
- Anything that seems to trigger asthma flare-ups
2. Record the working of your lungs
Lung-function tests can be strenuous at times but very vital to track asthma symptoms and chalk out the right treatment. The two main lung function tests are:
- Peak flow- You can do this test at home with a simple hand-held device called a peak flow meter that indicates how fast you can force air out of your lungs. Peak flow readings are sometimes gauged as a percentage of how your lungs work at their best.
- Spirometry- This can be done at your doctor's office with a machine called a spirometer and it measures how much air your lungs can hold and how much air you can exhale in one second after you take a deep breath.
3. Adjust treatment & medications accordingly
If your lungs aren't working as well as they should be, you must adjust your medications according to the contingency plan you made with your doctor as it would let you know how and when to make adjustments.
The two main types of medications that are used to treat asthma include:
- Long-term control medications such as inhaled corticosteroids are the pivotal medications that are used to keep asthma under control. These preventive medications treat the airway inflammation that cause asthma symptoms. If you use them on a daily basis, these medications can reduce or eliminate asthma flare-ups.
- Quick-relief inhalers also called as rescue inhalers, contain a fast-acting medication such as albuterol.
They are used to quickly open your airways and make breathing easier, if need be. If you know when to use these medications, you can prevent yourself from an impending asthma attack.
Long-term control medications are important to keep your asthma in control. And, if you are frequently using a quick-relief inhaler to treat symptoms, your asthma isn't under control. Therefore, it becomes necessary to see your doctor in regards to treatment changes.
Also, don’t forget to consume your asthma medications properly as they will keep your asthma under control.
Now, that you have known all the symptoms, causes and the available treatment for asthma, just remember that you can effectively manage it, if you discover what works best for your lungs and body. Do keep a regular track of your symptoms and necessary medications. If you are of the view that you may have asthma due to genetic or any other external reasons, then the LongiFIT test can be the right guiding force for you.
Bione By incorporating Next-Generation Sequencing, Bione is Asia’s first direct-to-consumer genetic testing organization that provides personalized microbiome and genetic testing. Founded by Dr. Surendra K Chikara, the first person to mark genomic testing on the Indian map, the company has been making a tremendous mark in the field of preventive healthcare.