Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the bronchial tubes, known as the airways that carry air to and from the lungs. Common symptoms are shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing (a hissing sound while breathing) and coughing. These symptoms occur because the swelling and narrowing of the airways cause difficulty in breathing. Symptoms are experienced mostly during night or early mornings. It has been noticed that a person is more prone to asthma in childhood. With age, the severity and frequency of attacks decrease.

Asthma – Causes and Triggers

Swelling or inflammation in the inside wall is caused by various factors.  The bronchial tubes become extremely sensitive to irritations such as air pollution, cold temperatures, high humidity, chemical fumes, weather changes, allergens such as pollen and mould, strong smells, paints, tobacco smoke, dust, pet fur, certain medication, etc. Physical exercise can also trigger asthma symptoms.

More about asthma episode / attack

A patient suffering from asthma is called an asthmatic. When the above mentioned symptoms become worse than the norm, it is called an asthma episode. In severe cases it is referred to as asthma attack. During an asthma attack, the inflammation of the airways increases, muscles around the airways tighten up and are further blocked by mucus, thus making it very difficult for the patient to breathe. Asthma attacks could be mild, moderate or severe. In severe cases the airways are blocked to such an extent that the oxygen fails to enter the lungs. Lack of oxygen may cause the skin and nails to become blue in colour. Such attacks can also be fatal if immediate hospitalization does not take place.

Managing Asthma – Prevention is the key

Like any other chronic disease, asthma has no cure. However, most asthmatics can live a healthy and active lifestyle by managing their asthma. Learning how to control your asthma is the key.

Few pointers may be helpful:

  • Stay away from irritants that trigger an episode. An attack can surface at any time if you are exposed to one of your triggers. Triggers may differ from person to person. It is crucial to identify the warning signs and take preventive action before matters get worse.
  • Take regular medicines prescribed by the doctor. For long term control of asthma, inhaled corticosteroids are usually prescribed. These may be taken through an inhaler.
  • Exercise is important to keep you fit, but if physical activity is one of your trigger, you may use medicine to control the symptoms.
  • Monitor your asthma by maintaining a record so you can be in control. Do not let asthma get in the way of a healthy lifestyle.

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