Prevention First

ASTHMA

Asthma is a predisposition to chronic inflammation of the lungs in which the airways (bronchi) are reversibly narrowed. During asthma attacks, the smooth muscle cells in the bronchi constrict, the airways become inflamed and swollen and breathing becomes difficult. This is often referred to as a tight chest and is a sign to immediately take medication.

Although asthma is a chronic obstructive condition, it is not usually considered as a part of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as this term refers specifically to combinations of bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Unlike these diseases, the airway obstruction in asthma is usually reversible.

Causes

  • Asthma is caused by environmental and genetic factors, which can influence how severe asthma is and how well it responds to medication.
  • Underlying both environmental and genetic factors is the role of the upper airway in recognizing the perceived dangers and protecting the more vulnerable lungs by shutting down the airway.
  • Environmental tobacco smoke, especially maternal cigarette smoking, is associated with high risk of asthma prevalence and asthma morbidity.
  • Asthma prevalence and asthma deaths also differ by gender. Males are more likely to be diagnosed with asthma as children, but asthma is more likely to persist into adulthood in females
  • Asthma has been strongly associated with the presence of cockroaches in living quarters, which is more likely in such neighborhoods.
  • Asthma incidence is relatively high in sports such as cycling, mountain biking and long-distance running and a relatively lower incidence in weightlifting and diving.

Symptoms

  • Tight feeling in chest.
  • Dyspnea (Shortness of breath)
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • In severe attack sufferer can turn blue black from lack of oxygen.

Prevention and risk

  • Prevention of the development of asthma is different from prevention of asthma episodes. Aggressive treatment of mild allergy with immunotherapy has been shown to reduce the likelihood of asthma development.
  • In controlling symptoms, the crucial first step in treatment is for patient and doctor to collaborate in establishing a specific plan of action to prevent episodes of asthma by avoiding triggers and allergens, regularly testing for lung function and using preventive medications such as an inhaled corticosteroid, which helps to suppress inflammation.
  • If symptoms persist, additional controller drugs are added until almost all asthma symptoms are prevented. With the proper use of control drugs, patients with asthma can avoid the complications that result from overuse of rescue medications.
  • Patients with asthma sometimes stop taking their controller medication when they feel fine and have no problems breathing. This often results in further attacks after a time.
  • Allergy Desensitization, also known as allergy immunotherapy, may be recommended in some cases where allergy is the suspected cause or trigger of asthma. Allergy shots are dangerous in severe asthma and in uncontrolled asthma.
  • If a patient is only allergic to one or two items, oral allergy immunotherapy can be used. This is safe, much easier in young children and is about half as effective. Unfortunately if a patient is allergic to more than 2 or 3 items then oral therapy cannot be given in a dose which is proven safe and effective.
  • If chronic acid indigestion (GERD) contributes to a patient's asthma, it should also be treated, because it may prolong the respiratory problem.
  • Chronic sinus disease may be a contributing factor in difficult to control asthma and should be evaluated.