Asthma is a chronic disease that affects people of all ages but is most common in childhood. It affects the lungs causing frequent episodes of coughing, chest tightness, and breathing difficulty, usually, after exposure to a trigger since the airways are more sensitive.
Symptoms may include:
- A whistling sound when breathing.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest tightness
Although its symptoms are similar to those of many other diseases, you are more likely to have asthma if your symptoms:
- Keep coming back.
- Being worse in the morning and at night.
- Occur after exposure to a trigger, such as exercising or allergies (such as pollen or animal fur).
Symptoms can also get worsen, which is known as asthma attacks, and can include:
- Coughing and chest tightness.
- Being breathless to eat, talk, or sleep.
- Breathing faster.
- Rapid heartbeat.
You will need to see a doctor to diagnose and evaluate your condition through:
Asking you about:
- Your symptoms.
- When it happens and how often.
- If the symptoms are triggered by something.
- If you have eczema or allergy and your family history.
- Nitric oxide test in which your doctor will ask you to breathe into a machine that measures the level of nitric oxide in your breath. Since its presence is a sign of inflammation in your lungs.
- Spirometry is done by blowing into a machine to measure how fast you can exhale and how much air your lungs can hold.
Common triggers include:
- Allergies to pollen grains, house dust mites, or animal fur.
- Smoke and pollution.
- Cold air.
- Respiratory infections such as flu or common cold.
Fortunately, identifying your trigger may help you control your symptoms.
There is no cure for asthma yet, but following your doctor’s instructions and adhering to the prescribed medications helps control the symptoms and reduces their impact on your life and activities.
It is usually treated with an inhaler that lets you inhale medicines. Treatment can include:
- Short-acting inhaler used when having asthma attacks.
- Long-acting inhalers, used to prevent asthma symptoms.
- Some people may need to take tablets.
Visit your doctor regularly to monitor your condition. The doctor will:
- Ask you if asthma is interfering with your normal activities or if your symptoms are getting worse.
- Discuss your treatment plan, including if you are experiencing any side effects or if you need to be reminded how to use your inhaler.
- Perform breath tests.
Remember that you should talk to your doctor about what to do if symptoms worsen gradually or suddenly.
Uncontrolled asthma may cause complications such as:
- Feeling exhausted.
- Absence from work or school.
- Stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Affects a person’s productivity.
- Delayed growth or puberty in children
- Increased risk of severe attacks that can threaten your life.