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Asthma

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Silhouette of a boy-getting an Asthma treatment.

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) respiratory system disease also known as bronchial asthma. Asthma affects the airways, making it hard to breathe and threatening lives. Coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath are the common symptoms of asthma. Most people get asthma when they are young.[1] About 300 million people worldwide have asthma and about 23 million Americans had asthma in 2006. Because of asthma, 250 thousand people die each year.[2]

Symptoms

Asthma affects the airways and it makes hard to breathe.

The common symptoms for asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Coughing occurs often at night or early in the morning and wheezing occurs when you breathe. These symptoms can make you not sleep well. Chest tightness is an unpleasant sensation of tightness that gives you feeling of heaviness or pressure in the chest. Shortness of breath makes it hard to breathe and makes you feel out of breath. Most people have these symptoms, but not all of them have. Likewise, people who have these symptoms don't necessarily have asthma. There is a lung function test that helps you to diagnose what types of asthma symptoms you have and how often an agony breaks out. When you have a severe pain, it means you are in a perilous position. If you first notice some of those symptoms, you have to treat them quickly. [3]

The symptoms of childhood asthma and adult asthma are very similar. If your child has a high fever and a frequent coughing, it means your child may have asthma.[4]

The common symptoms of childhood asthma are:

  • Chest pain or chest tightness
  • Frequent coughing or wheezing (including a cold or the flu)
  • Trouble breathing (shortness of breath)
  • Trouble sleeping (Fatigue)[5]

Having a severe pain because of asthma, you need to check this lists of emergency symptoms below:

  • Bluish color to the lips and face
  • Decreased level of alertness such as severe drowsiness or confusion
  • Extreme difficulty breathing
  • Rapid pulse
  • Severe anxiety due to shortness of breath
  • Sweating[6]

If you have these symptoms, you really need to go to hospital because it can threaten your life. [6]

Causes

Dust mites are one of the common causes of asthma.
Tobacco smoke and hazy air are the main causes of asthma.

Researchers still have not found the exact cause of asthma, but they think a combination of factors cause people to develop asthma.[7]Common factors that generate asthma are:

  • Animals
  • Dust
  • Changes in weather
  • Chemicals in the air or in food
  • Exercise
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
  • Strong emotions such as stress
  • Smoking tobacco [8]

Most people get asthma early in life when the immune system is developing. If their parents have asthma, they inherit this disease. Asthma can develop allergies, which is called atopy. [7]
Young children have more hardships because of asthma than adults have.

Diagnosis

If you want to make exact diagnosis of asthma, you have to go to the hospital to meet your primary care doctor. The doctor will diagnose asthma after you tell him or her about your medical history, take a physical exam, and take some diagnostic tests. There are levels of asthma that help you to find out what is a suitable treatment for you.[9]

Medical History
Medical history is the details about your previous medical experiences, such as operations and medications taken. The doctor will want to know about your family history and your symptoms. You have to tell him or her about what kind of symptoms you have, how often it occurs, and how it hurts you.[9]

Physical Examination
Physical examination is the process of examining your body to diagnose any disease. The doctor will check your signs of asthma such as breathing, allergies, or wheezing. He or she also will examine inside of your nose and throat.[9]

Diagnostic Tests
You have to take a test which is called spirometry. It is a lung functioning test that determines how much air you can breathe and how fast you can blow air. After you take this test, the doctor will diagnose whether you have asthma or not. There are more tests to diagnose asthma: allergy test, bronchoprovocation test, a chest x ray, or EKG (electrocardiogram). These tests help to make exact diagnosis of asthma.[9]

Treatments

Asthma medicines.

To control asthma, you have to make a well-set plan because it is a chronic disease. The best treatment for asthma are to avoid things that can worsen the disease and take medication.[10]If you follow these well, you will prevent troublesome symptoms and attacks, reduce your need of quick-relief medicines, maintain good lung function and normal activity levels, and sleep well at night.[10]

There are many medications that can treat asthma, but most basic medications are long-acting medications and quick-relief medications.[10]The medicines for long-acting medications are:

  • Inhaled corticosteroids (Azmacort, Vanceril, AeroBid, Flovent)
  • Leukotriene inhibitors (Singulair and Accolate)
  • Long-acting bronchodilators (Serevent)
  • Omilizumab (Xolair),
  • Cromolyn sodium (Intal) or nedocromil sodium (Tilade)
  • Aminophylline or theophylline
  • A single medication that combines steroids and bronchodilators (Advair, Symbicort)[10]

The medicines for quick-relief medications are:

  • Short-acting bronchodilators (Proventil, Ventolin, Xopenex)
  • Corticosteroids (methylprednisolone)[10]

Prevention

The prevalence of childhood in 1980-2001.

If you want to prevent asthma, you have to avoid things that create an allergy. Clean the house often so you can breathe fresh air and remove the carpets because it can reduce many organisms that create germs. Cleaning your bedding also is a good way to prevent asthma. In bedding, there are also many dust mites. If you have an allergy to animals, you must remove the animals and must not touch them. Among them all, the best ways to prevent asthma are making your room clean and avoiding things that has many dust mites. [11]

Childhood Asthma Prevention

  • Avoid things that have allergen.
  • Do not smoke around your child.
  • Help your child to be active.
  • See the doctor is the best way to prevent asthma.[12]

Video

References

  1. Asthma-overview, alternative names unknown author. © 1997-2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. unknown date.
  2. Percentage of Americans With Asthma Manny Frishberg. Copyright © 1999-2010 eHow, Inc. unknown date.
  3. What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Asthma? Unknown author. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. September 2008.
  4. Symptoms of Childhood AsthmaHarvey Simon, MD. healthcentral.com. 03/18/2006
  5. Childhood asthma-symptoms Mayo Clinic staff. © 1998-2010 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Sept. 21, 2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 Asthma-symptoms unknown author. © 1997-2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. unknown date.
  7. 7.0 7.1 What Causes Asthma? Unknown author. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. September 2008.
  8. Asthma-causes unknown author. © 1997-2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. unknown date.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 How Is Asthma Diagnosed?Unknown author. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. September 2008.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 How Is Asthma Treated and Controlled? Unknown author. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. September 2008.
  11. Asthma-prevention unknown author. © 1997-2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. unknown date.
  12. Childhood asthma-prevention Mayo Clinic staff. © 1998-2010 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Sept 21, 2010.

Additional Information

Other Respiratory Diseases