In the United States, asthma affects millions of people. It is one of the most common chronic diseases in adults and children. The disease results in huge public health expenditures and high healthcare costs compared to other chronic diseases.
Asthma impacts the quality of life of those who suffer from it, making it difficult for them to participate in activities they once enjoyed. People with this condition also have a higher risk of premature death because they are less able to exercise. Thus, increasing their risk of developing other diseases such as heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.
The good news is that you can still live a full life without worrying about flare-ups that limit your activity levels or cause pain during an attack. With proper knowledge, you can live with this condition without compromising your quality of life. Below are the things you need to know about asthma, its symptoms, and ways to manage it.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a serious lung disease that is characterized by narrowing or blockage in breathing passages. Classified by the World Health Organization as a chronic lung condition, asthma is one of the most common long-term conditions. Although it is most often found in young children, it can also affect adults.
Asthma induces airway inflammation and makes it difficult for you to breathe normally. It causes recurrent respiratory infections and occasional symptoms lasting from seconds to weeks.
Moreover, it attacks happen when your airways become narrowed, which leads to an increase in mucus production. Increased mucus in your lungs causes inflammation leading to symptoms of wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.
What Causes Asthma?
There are a number of factors that can cause asthma, including allergies, genes, and infections. However, the exact causes of the condition are unknown. Some people may be more likely to develop asthma if they are exposed to certain triggers, such as cigarette smoke or dust mites. Below are some of the factors that can increase your risk of developing asthma:
It is important to know if you are at risk or have family members with asthma. If both of your parents have asthma, there is a high chance that you will also develop it. If one of your parents has asthma, your chances of getting it are lower but still not insignificant.
The good news is that there are things that you can do to make sure that you don’t get it. By choosing healthier habits for yourself, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing this condition.
If you have asthma, you may be more likely to develop it if you live in an environment with poor air quality. Air pollution is a common trigger for asthma attacks. It can cause symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing.
Air pollution includes dust particles, pollen, and other irritants that get into the lungs and can trigger an attack. This occurs when there are too many chemicals in the air or when there are not enough trees or plants to filter out these chemicals.
Air pollution occurs outdoors and indoors — from cars on the road or from factories near your home. People can also get it from smoking cigarettes or burning wood or other materials in their homes without properly ventilating the rooms.
Viruses can also be one of the causes of asthma. They are very small and can’t be seen by the naked eye. They are made up of only a few cells and invade other cells to survive. Viruses that cause the condition include rhinovirus (RV) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Some viruses are mild and cause no symptoms, while others can be more severe and cause serious illness. Some viruses cause colds or flu-like symptoms, while others can cause infections.
Signs And Symptoms
If you have asthma, you know how important it is to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms. That way, if you notice that your breathing isn’t as easy as it should be, you can take steps to get help right away. These signs and symptoms can help you determine if you’re having an attack.
Coughing is one of the most common symptoms of asthma. It’s caused by the airways in your lungs becoming inflamed. It makes it harder for air to flow through and can make you cough. You may also feel like you have something stuck in your throat or chest that won’t go away.
Coughing can be alarming, especially if you’re new to having the condition. But you don’t have to worry—coughing is a normal part of having asthma. However, if you’re coughing more than usual, it’s best to call your doctor or seek medical attention right away.
Wheezing occurs when the airways narrow, causing them to make a whistling noise when you breathe. If you have asthma, this sound may become louder when you exercise or inhale irritants like smoke or dust.
Wheezing can be mild or severe and may last for a few seconds or minutes. Moreover, wheezing is often an early warning sign that your airways are starting to narrow, and you need to use your asthma inhaler right away.
3. Shortness Of Breath
Shortness of breath is one of the first signs that you may have an attack, which is why it’s so important to know what it feels like if you have asthma. It is your body’s way of telling you that it can’t get enough oxygen into your blood. It can also be described as:
- Difficulty breathing in or out
- Feeling like you can’t get enough oxygen into your lungs
- A feeling that your heart is beating too fast or too hard
- A feeling that you need to take deeper breaths than usual
4. Chest Tightness Or Pain
Chest tightness or pain is a common sign of asthma. It can be a key symptom that helps you identify the condition when you’re not experiencing other symptoms. Chest tightness is often experienced as a squeezing sensation in your chest, making it difficult to take a deep breath. The feeling can be mild to severe and may come on suddenly or gradually over time.
Chest tightness may also be accompanied by coughing or wheezing. If you’re experiencing chest tightness, this could indicate that you’re having an asthma flare-up and should take medication immediately.
Fatigue is caused by the stress on your body from asthma symptoms, like coughing and shortness of breath. If you have asthma, you may feel tired all the time or when you cough or exert yourself physically.
Fatigue can be more common in people with moderate or severe asthma. It affects the amount of energy you have and makes it difficult to complete tasks that require physical exertion. Fatigue can also lead to depression, affecting your quality of life.
How Is Asthma Diagnosed
Diagnosing asthma can be difficult. It’s important to know that there are many different types of asthma and a lot of different ways to diagnose it.
The best way to diagnose asthma is through a physical examination by a doctor or nurse. They will listen to your lungs with a stethoscope and check your breathing patterns. They may also ask you questions about your symptoms, such as when they started, what makes them worse, and how long they last.
The doctor may also ask for blood tests or skin tests to see if you have allergies or other conditions that could be causing your symptoms. The doctor will also ask about your family history of asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems.
How To Manage Asthma
Asthma is a chronic condition that needs to be managed. The goal of an asthma action plan is to control your symptoms so that you can live a full, active life.
Asthma can be managed with a combination of medications, proper diet and exercise, and avoiding triggers. This will help you to live a normal life without asthma symptoms.
If you have asthma, there are some things that you can do to help manage your symptoms:
Know your triggers
If you know what causes your asthma attacks, it will be easier to avoid them in the future. Avoid allergens, such as dust and pollen, when possible.
Take care of yourself physically and emotionally
The best way to prevent asthma attacks is to take good care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Get enough sleep and rest when you need it. If your asthma is caused by stress, try some relaxation techniques like meditation or breathing exercises.
Try not to smoke or drink alcohol
It would be best if you also avoided secondhand smoke because it can make asthma worse.
Take your medication as prescribed by your doctor
Your doctor can help you find the correct dosage and make sure that it works for you. If you have trouble breathing or feel like an attack is coming on, take your medicine right away.
Sometimes asthma symptoms can be so mild that they are undetected. It’s vital to follow up with your doctor. Get a proper checkup if you notice symptoms like coughing, wheezing, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and persistent cough. Learning about the signs of an asthma attack and the triggers of this bronchial condition will help you manage it better and reduce the risk of experiencing a more severe attack.