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Home » Asthma

Asthma: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Overview

Overview

Causes

Causes

Symptoms

Symptoms

Diagnosis

Diagnosis

Treatment

Treatment

Self-care

Self Care

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that affects the airways in the lungs. The condition causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to breathing difficulties, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Asthma affects people of all ages, and various factors can trigger it, including environmental allergens, exercise, stress, and respiratory infections.

Is Asthma a lung disease?

Yes, asthma (Bronchial Asthama) is a lung disease that affects the airways in the lungs. It causes inflammation and narrowing of the air passages, making it difficult to breathe. Asthma can cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. While there is no cure for asthma, it can be managed with proper treatment and medication.
condition of lungs in asthma

There are several types of asthma, including:

  • Allergic Asthma: This variant of asthma is triggered by exposure to environmental allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold.
  • Non-allergic Asthma: This variant of asthma is not triggered by allergens but rather by factors such as exercise, cold air, respiratory infections, and emotional stress.
  • Occupational Asthma: This variant of asthma is caused by exposure to substances in the workplace, such as chemicals, dust, and fumes.
  • Exercise-induced Asthma: This variant of asthma is triggered by physical activity and can occur during or after exercise.
  • Childhood asthma: This type affects children and can improve or worsen over time.
  • Adult-onset Asthma: This type of asthma develops in adulthood and can be caused by various factors, including obesity, hormonal changes, and smoking.

Asthma can be managed through a combination of medications, such as bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory drugs, and lifestyle changes, such as avoiding triggers and maintaining a healthy weight. People with asthma must work closely with their healthcare providers to develop a suitable treatment plan that meets their needs.

Stages of Asthma

Asthma stages can have varying degrees of severity. The severity of asthma classification is done into four stages based on the frequency and intensity of symptoms and lung function impairment. The stages of the asthma severity chart are as follows:

  • Intermittent Asthma: This is the mildest form of asthma, where symptoms occur less than twice a week, and asthma attacks are brief and infrequent. Symptoms are easily relieved by quick-relief inhalers, and lung function remains normal.
  • Mild persistent Asthma: In this stage, symptoms occur more than twice a week, but also not every day. Asthma attacks may affect daily activities, and lung function may decrease slightly. Quick-relief inhalers can provide relief, but long-term control medications are often necessary.
  • Moderate persistent Asthma: Symptoms occur daily, and asthma attacks may be more frequent and severe. Lung function is reduced, and daily activities may be significantly affected. Both quick relief and long-term control medications are needed.
  • Severe persistent Asthma: The most severe form of asthma, where symptoms are constant, and asthma attacks are frequent and intense. Lung function is severely reduced, and daily activities are significantly limited. Treatment requires high doses of long-term control medications, and quick-relief inhalers may be less effective.

Am I Having an Asthma Attack, and Can You Develop Asthma as an Adult?

It’s important to note that asthma symptoms and severity can change over time, and a person’s asthma stage may also vary. With proper management, however, many people with asthma can lead normal, active lives. People with asthma must work closely with their healthcare provider to develop a suitable treatment plan that meets their needs.

Causes of Asthma

The prime cause of asthma is not yet fully understood. Still, it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Here are some common asthma attack triggers:

  • Dust mites: Microscopic insects found in household dust can trigger allergic reactions.
  • Air pollution: Outdoor air pollution or humidity and Asthma, such as smog and particulate matter, can irritate the airways and trigger asthma symptoms.
  • Exercise: Physical activity can trigger asthma symptoms in some people, especially when the air is cold and dry.
  • Mold: A fungus that can grow indoors and trigger allergic reactions in some people.
  • Pets: Pet dander and saliva can trigger asthma symptoms in some people who are allergic to animals.
  • Smoking: Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke can irritate the airways and also trigger asthma symptoms.
  • Chemical smells: Strong odors from cleaning products, perfumes, and other chemicals can irritate the airways and trigger asthma symptoms.
  • Certain occupational exposures: Exposure to chemicals, dust, and fumes in the workplace can trigger asthma symptoms in some people.

People with asthma must identify and avoid their specific triggers as much as possible to reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. Asthma management also involves taking medication as prescribed and working closely with a healthcare provider to develop a personalized treatment plan.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Asthma?

The prime signs and symptoms of asthma can vary in severity and frequency and can differ for each person. However, some common symptoms of asthma include:

  • Wheezing: A whistling or squeaking sound when breathing.
  • Shortness of breath: Difficulty catching your breath or feeling like you can’t take a deep breath.
  • Chest tightness: A feeling of pressure or tightness in the chest.
  • Coughing: A persistent cough, especially at night or early in the morning.
  • Difficulty sleeping: Trouble sleeping caused by wheezing, shortness of breath, or coughing.

Asthma symptoms can be intermittent, with periods of no symptoms followed by asthma attacks, or they can be persistent, with symptoms occurring daily. Some people may only experience symptoms during certain activities or times of the year.

Symptoms of ASTHMA

How Do You Know if You Have Asthma?

If a person suspects asthma, it’s important to monitor their symptoms and discuss them with a healthcare provider. One way to monitor signs is to keep a diary of when symptoms occur, what activities trigger them, and how they respond to medication. Peak flow meters can also measure how well air moves in and also out of the lungs, which can help monitor asthma symptoms and adjust treatment accordingly.

How To Diagnose Asthma?

Diagnosing asthma involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and various tests. Here are some common tests that doctors may use to diagnose asthma:

  • Spirometry: This test is used to measure the amount of air a person can exhale and how quickly they can do it. It is the most common test to diagnose asthma and monitor lung function over time.
  • Peak flow measurement: This test uses a peak flow meter to measure the speed and force of a person’s breath. This test can help to monitor asthma symptoms and adjust treatment accordingly.
  • Methacholine challenge: This test involves inhaling a small amount of methacholine, which can cause the airways to narrow if a person has asthma. This test can help to diagnose asthma in people with normal lung function.
  • Nitric oxide test: This test measures the nitric oxide level in a person’s breath, which can be elevated in people with asthma.
  • Allergy testing: Allergy testing can help to identify specific allergens that may trigger asthma symptoms.
  • Chest X-ray or CT scan: These tests can help to rule out other lung diseases that may have similar symptoms to asthma.
  • Exercise challenge: This test involves exercising on a treadmill or bike to see if exercise triggers asthma symptoms.

People with suspected asthma need to undergo a thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider.

How Do Doctors Test for Asthma and Is Asthma Treatable?

Asthma, it is a chronic condition that cannot be cured. Still, it can be managed with a combination of medication and self-care. Here are some common methods on how to treat asthma:

  • Medications: There are two types of medication used to treat asthma: controller and quick-relief medicines. Controller medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids, help reduce inflammation in the airways and prevent asthma symptoms. Quick-relief medications, such as bronchodilators, help to relax the muscles in the airways and provide immediate relief from asthma symptoms.
  • Self-care: People with Asthma can take steps to manage their condition on their own, including avoiding triggers that can cause asthma symptoms, using peak flow meters to monitor signs, and following a written asthma action plan developed with their healthcare provider.
  • Supportive care: In addition to medication and self-care, supportive care can also be helpful for people with asthma. This can include working with a healthcare provider to manage coexisting conditions, such as allergies or acid reflux, that can worsen asthma symptoms by using PFT Asthma, SABA Asthma, Asthma Oxygen Therapy for conditions relating to Asthma oxygen levels.
  • Quick relief asthma treatments: Quick-relief treatments provide immediate relief from asthma symptoms. These may include short-acting bronchodilators, such as albuterol, used to treat asthma attacks.

In some cases, people with severe asthma may require more intensive treatments, such as biological medications or oral steroids, to manage their condition.

Ongo care doctor wearing stethoscope pointing left hand

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Self Care Instructions to Help Asthma

Asthma self-care is an important aspect of managing asthma. It can help to prevent asthma attacks and reduce the severity of symptoms. Here are some self-care tips for people with asthma:

  • Avoid triggers: Identify and avoid triggers that can cause asthma symptoms or an asthma attack. Common triggers include dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold, tobacco smoke, and air pollution.
  • Take medication as prescribed: Take controller medications prescribed by a healthcare provider, even when symptoms are absent. Quick-relief drugs should be used as directed for immediate relief of symptoms.
  • Monitor symptoms: Use a peak flow meter to monitor lung function and detect changes in symptoms. A written asthma action plan can help to guide the treatment and management of symptoms.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise can help to improve lung function and reduce the severity of asthma symptoms. It’s important to work with a healthcare provider to develop a safe and appropriate exercise plan.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eat a nutritious diet, get enough sleep, and manage stress to help reduce the risk of asthma symptoms.
  • Keep rescue medication on hand: Carry quick-relief medication in case of an asthma attack.
  • Manage coexisting conditions: Manage conditions such as allergies, acid reflux, and sinusitis that can worsen asthma symptoms.

A care plan for asthma patient is an important part of managing asthma. It can help to improve the quality of life for people with this condition.

When to See a Doctor

People with asthma must work closely with a healthcare provider to manage their condition. Here are some signs that it may be time to see a doctor:

  • Worsening symptoms: If asthma symptoms, such as asthma coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath, get worse, it’s important to see a doctor.
  • Difficulty breathing: If it becomes difficult to live, or if asthma symptoms are not responding to medication, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Quick-relief medication use: If quick-relief medication is being used more frequently than usual or is not providing relief from asthma symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor.
  • Emergency symptoms: If symptoms, such as severe chest pain, rapid breathing, or bluish lips or face, are present, seek emergency medical attention immediately.
  • Interference with daily activities: If asthma symptoms interfere with daily activities, such as exercise or work, it’s important to see a doctor to adjust treatment and management strategies.

People with asthma need regular follow-up appointments with a healthcare provider to monitor lung function and adjust treatment as needed, even when symptoms are not present. A written asthma action plan can help as asthma guidelines for the management of symptoms and prevent complications.

Ongo Care Team

An Ongo Care team is a group of healthcare providers who work together to manage and treat a person’s asthma. The team may include the following:
  • Primary care physician: This healthcare provider typically diagnoses and manages asthma and works with the patient to develop an asthma action plan.
  • Pulmonologist: A pulmonologist is a specialist who diagnoses and treats lung diseases, including asthma, in more complex cases or if the patient’s asthma is not well-controlled.
  • Allergist: An allergist can help identify and manage allergies that can worsen asthma symptoms.
  • Respiratory therapist: A respiratory therapist can teach the patient how to use inhalers and other respiratory devices and provide guidance on breathing techniques.
  • Nurse: A nurse can help monitor asthma symptoms and provide education and also support to patients and their families.
  • Pharmacist: A pharmacist can provide information about asthma medications and potential side effects and help ensure that drugs are used correctly.
  • Mental health professional: Mental health professionals can help manage the emotional impact of living with a chronic condition like asthma and provide support for any anxiety or depression that may be present.
Working with an Ongo Care asthma team can help people with asthma develop a personalized treatment plan that considers their individual needs and lifestyle. It’s important to communicate openly with the team and follow their recommendations to help manage and control asthma symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can asthma be cured?
Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be effectively managed with proper treatment and self-care.
What to expect from an online appointment at Ongo Care If I have asthma symptoms?

During an online appointment with Ongo Care for asthma symptoms, a healthcare provider will review your medical history, ask about symptoms, and may recommend testing or prescribe medication.

What is an asthma attack? When to worry about an asthma attack?

An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. If an asthma attack is very severe, it can be life-threatening, and emergency medical attention is needed.

What's the asthma action plan at Ongo Care?
The asthma action plan at Ongo Care involves working with a healthcare provider to develop an individualized treatment plan, including medication use and self-care strategies, to manage asthma symptoms.
What's the follow-up process when my asthma symptoms are under control?
When asthma symptoms are under control, follow-up appointments may be scheduled to monitor lung function and adjust treatment as needed.
Is asthma hereditary?
Asthma can be hereditary, and having a family history of asthma can increase the risk of developing the condition.
Is asthma related to allergy?
Asthma can be related to allergies, as some people with asthma have allergies that can trigger asthma symptoms. Allergies can also cause inflammation in the airways, which can worsen asthma symptoms.