What is Asthma? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Asthma? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Published : May 13, 2024
Last Updated : May 13, 2024

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a long-term inflammatory disease that affects the airways of the lungs. In asthma, muscles around the airways get inflamed and narrow. They either get filled with mucus that reduces the air to pass through and makes breathing harder. 

Asthma causes recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstructions, and bronchospasm are easily triggered. Wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath are the symptoms generally seen during Asthma. The symptoms of asthma may occur a few times a day or a few times a week, and they don't go away. Also, its symptoms may become worse at night or with exercise, which requires medical treatment right away. 

Thus, chronic conditions like Asthma make several physical activities challenging due to breathing difficulties. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 25 million people in the US have Asthma.

Symptoms of Asthma

Some Asthma symptoms help you understand you are suffering from it. They are:

  • Coughing
  • Breath shortness
  • Chest pain
  • Sleeping trouble
  • Anxiety
  • Chest tightness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Difficulty in talking
  • Fatigue.

If you observe any of the above-given symptoms, immediately visit your doctor and consult. You can visit our Store to check which best asthma inhalers are available to manage asthma symptoms.

Causes of Asthma

Asthma can be caused due to multiple reasons. Below, we have listed some of the most prevalent causes of Asthma.

Viral infections

People who experience frequent viral infections from early childhood mainly have Asthma. Viral infections may include respiratory syncytial virus infections and many others.

Genetics

Genetics can also be a cause of Asthma. If any of your close family members are suffering from it, it increases the chances of it occurring in your body.

Environmental factors

Exposure to chemical fumes, such as toxins, allergens, and thirdhand smoke, may also contribute to Asthma symptoms.

Hygiene hypothesis

Staying near dirt and dust or unhygienic places may also cause Asthma problems. Hence, always practice hygiene to protect yourself from such issues.

Smoking

Smoking cigarettes may also cause Asthma. When one smokes, you come in contact with harmful smoke, which can increase the risk of Asthma.

Read Also - Related Diseases to Asthma is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

Types of Asthma

There are several types of Asthma, as discussed below:

Allergic Asthma

Allergic Asthma mainly prevails due to molds, pet dander, and pollens.

Nonallergic Asthma: Nonallergic Asthma flares up due to stress, exercise, illness, and other nonallergic conditions.

Occupational Asthma

Occupational Asthma mainly occurs due to harmful substances in the workplace, such as dust, gases, fumes, etc.

Aspirin-induced Asthma

Aspirin-induced Asthma is triggered due to aspirin or NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, naproxen, and more.

Cough Variant Asthma

Cough variant asthma is related to a dry cough. It is not similar to other asthma types.

Nocturnal Asthma

Nocturnal asthma symptoms worsen during the night. Heartburn, dust mites, pet dander, etc can cause them.

Childhood asthma

Childhood asthma happens in infants below the age of 5 years.

Risk factors for Asthma

Factors that increase the chances of developing Asthma include:

  • Overweight
  • Family history of Asthma
  • They have allergic conditions such as atopic dermatitis, which causes red, itchy skin and hay fever and might consist of symptoms like runny nose, congestion, and itchy eyes.
  • Being a smoker
  • Exposure to smoke released from industries and vehicles, exhaust fumes, or other types of pollution
  • Exposure to chemicals, farming waste, and pesticides

Complications of Asthma

In normal conditions, you may keep your asthma problem under control. But, still, Asthma is a severe condition and leads to several complications in your day-to-day life. 

Here are some of the complications you may experience during Asthma, and ignoring them can be harmful and might worsen with time. 

Inadequately controlled Asthma may cause complications like:

  • Feeling tired every time
  • Stress, depression and anxiety
  • Delay in growth or puberty in children
  • Underperformance at work and other activities
  • Lung infections(pneumonia)

The above listed and some other complications may appear when you are healing Asthma.

Diagnosis of Asthma

Diagnosing Asthma is not possible in a single step. Your healthcare provider will go through a few steps to examine you, which are listed here.

Health history

Your doctor will first ask a few questions about whether your family suffers from such a disease. If yes, you are more likely to develop it.

Physical exam

A physical exam involves using a stethoscope to listen to your breathing. Sometimes, skin tests are also performed to determine whether you are suffering from any allergic reactions. Allergic reactions have a high Asthma risk.

Breathing tests

Breathing tests allow doctors to check the air going in and out of the airways. A spirometry is used to measure the speed of the air.

X-ray / CT scan

Scans are mostly done to get an in-depth view of your lungs. X-rays and CT scans can show any infections that can contribute to Asthma.

Prevention measures for Asthma

The following measures can help you prevent Asthma:

  • Smoking causes irritants to the lungs when you have Asthma. Hence, avoid Smoking.
  • Avoid taking stress.
  • Have a healthy, balanced diet that improves health.
  • Avoid staying near chemicals and fumes.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Perform regular exercises.

Treatments for Asthma

Some of the treatments mainly prescribed for Asthma are below.

Bronchodilators

A bronchodilator is a fast-acting Asthma treatment that relaxes the tightened muscles around the airways. Bronchodilators help pass air, decreasing the problem.

As an oral medication, Bronchodilators are used with a nebulizer or an inhaler. It is generally used to treat sudden asthma symptoms.

Biologics

Asthma patients who don't respond to medications are treated with biologics. These drugs target particular antibodies in the body that lead to inflammation.

Doctors mainly give biologics in the form of injections.

Medications

Taking medications daily to treat Asthma may also help. But the medicines are not an immediate treatment. Some of the drugs are:

Anticholinergics

Anticholinergics stop the tightening of muscles around the airways. Anticholinergics are medicines that can be taken daily with anti-inflammatories.

Anti-inflammatories

Anti-inflammatory medicines reduce swelling and mucus production. Thus, anti-inflammatory drugs help clear the airways, making it easier to breathe.

Bronchial thermoplasty

Bronchial thermoplasty is an Asthma treatment performed with an electrode to heat airways. This further helps loosen the tightened muscles and can help one with severe Asthma. Bronchial thermoplasty is to be carried out by a doctor in the hospital.

Final words

That's all one needs to know about Asthma. If left untreated, Asthma can lead to severe problems. Hence, if you experience any symptoms, visit a nearby doctor and discuss them.