Saturday, February 9, 2013



The disease of the lungs that affects its airways and causes them to become inflamed and slender is known as Asthma. The routes through which transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place through the lungs are called airways. Asthma can be classified into two types; extrinsic asthma and intrinsic asthma.  As per statistics, over 300 million people all over the world are asthma patients; over 22 million people of USA alone are suffering from this disease. The number of persons affected by this disease has increased radically over the past 10 years. 

Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by reiterative coughing experiences accompanied by shortness of breath or the feeling of inability to transfer air through the lungs, tightness of the chest, wheezing and other problems.

Causes of Asthma
The fundamental causes of asthma are not completely understood. The strongest risk factors for developing asthma are a combination of genetic predisposition with environmental exposure to inhaled substances and particles that may provoke allergic reactions or irritate the airways, such as:
  • Indoor allergens (for example house dust mites in bedding, carpets and stuffed furniture, pollution and pet dander)
  • Outdoor allergens (such as pollens and moulds)
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Chemical irritants in the workplace
  • Air pollution

Other triggers can include cold air, extreme emotional arousal such as anger or fear, and physical exercise.
The most common asthma symptoms are:
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Signs of a Cold or Allergies.
  • Feeling Very Tired or Weak All the Time
  • Embarrassing Wheezing or Coughing Easily
  • Chest tightness, and/or
  • A dry, irritating and continual cough (especially at night/early in the morning, or with exercise or activity) 
These symptoms are caused by the narrowing of the airway. Symptoms vary from person to person, and may also change over time. If your asthma is well controlled you should only have occasional asthma symptoms. 

How to Manage Asthma Effectively
The first step to effective asthma management is to recognize that you have the condition, and identify the form your condition takes. Keep an eye out for the telltale symptoms of asthma, including breathlessness and tightness of the chest on a regular basis. Consult your doctor, who will confirm you have the condition and work with you to manage it as well as is physically possible. 

Once diagnosed, you will be prescribed with various medications to help you control your condition - predominantly inhalers. Asthma drugs come in the forms of preventers (which prevent asthma attacks through reducing inflammation of the airwaves), relievers (which relieve the symptoms of asthma) and combination inhalers, which combine the two. For more severe cases of asthma, steroid tablets may be prescribed. Your doctor will advise you as to how to use your drugs.

Knowing your triggers is an important part of managing your condition. Asthma triggers refer to certain things that make your condition worse - these can include cigarette, the weather, exercise, pollution and other common allergens. Your doctor will be able to carry out various tests to determine some of these, although it's important to keep a diary of when and where your condition gets worse in order to pinpoint more obscure triggers. 

You should also use your diary to monitor your condition overall. Use a peak flow meter at various points during the day to measure how much air you can exhale - these results can help your doctor (and you) make correlations between certain occurrences and thus help you to understand your condition properly.

A better understanding of your condition leads directly into drawing up a management programme that works for you. No two asthma sufferers are the same and a treatment plan that works wonders for one may be ineffective for another. In consultation with your doctor, work on an all-encompassing plan for managing your condition - this could be avoiding certain places at certain times, altering your behaviour during certain seasons and how often you use your medication. This plan won't be set in stone as your condition may worsen or improve, so make sure to continue monitoring your condition. 

Finally, keep in regular contact with your doctor. It's easy to forget about them once you're condition seems to be under control, but a visit to the doctor may pick up on something that needs to be addressed that you may have missed yourself.

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