Asthma is a chronic disease that can be successfully treated but cannot be cured. The cause of the attack is the reaction of the respiratory centers to any irritant that has entered the respiratory tract. Because of this, the blood vessels in the bronchi strongly and sharply narrow, a strong spasm occurs in the throat or trachea, which prevents a person from breathing.
Types of asthma
- Many patients with asthma develop antibodies to one or more allergens. This form is called allergic bronchial asthma. It is often combined with skin diseases (neurodermatitis) and allergic rhinitis. Allergic asthma is also called exogenous asthma, as opposed to endogenous bronchial asthma, in the development of which neither the susceptibility to allergies nor environmental allergens play a role;
- Allergic asthma usually develops in children and young people. The most common allergens include pollen, mold fungi, cockroaches, house dust and the epidermis (outer skin layer) of animals, especially cats;
- Food allergens cause asthma much less frequently than airborne, but some foods and dietary supplements can provoke severe attacks. Often, patients with bronchial asthma have reflux esophagitis (throwing the acidic contents of the ventricle back into the esophagus), and its treatment can reduce the severity of bronchial asthma;
- In asthma, the sensitivity of the respiratory tract to a variety of irritants (cold air, perfumery, smoke) is increased. A choking attack can cause severe physical exertion and rapid, excessive breathing (caused by laughter or crying);
- Medicines cause about 10% of asthma attacks. The most common drug that causes asthma is aspirin. Intolerance to aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs usually develops in 20-30 years;
- An attack can be provoked by beta-blockers (propranolol, metoprolol, timolol), including those that are part of eye drops.
There is also occupational asthma and other kinds of disease that require different treatment approaches.
Asthma attacks involve symptoms such as chest tightness, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. These symptoms can occur because of an allergic reaction you are having, or if the nature of your reaction has to do with physical exercise.
Other symptoms include general malaise and weakness, dry cough, diffuse cyanosis of the skin, tachycardia, pain in the head, dizziness, discharge of clear mucous sputum, attack of bronchospasm and obstruction.
Asthma is a congenital disease inherited from the parents or an independent disease that occurs in a person even if there are no cases of asthma in the family. In bronchial asthma, the airways are more sensitive than usual. They can be easily irritated by a variety of factors, called “triggers.” For example, there are the following triggers:
- Allergy: Allergy sufferers are more likely to have asthma. This type of disease often appears in children, although it can also occur in adulthood. Pollen of trees, grasses, mold fungi, dander of cats and dogs, house dust mites are common allergens. They can cause sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes and runny nose. If the lungs are severely irritated, allergens can trigger an asthma attack;
- ARVI: Frequent viral infections can cause asthma exacerbations. Infections can provoke longer episodes of wheezing and shortness of breath than allergens. In fact, respiratory viruses are the most common cause of asthma attacks;
- Irritants that can provoke asthma: exhaust gases, chemicals for use at the garden, strong odors of paint, perfume, hair sprays, deodorants, air purifiers, tobacco smoke, stress or exercise, medicines, including aspirin and beta blockers with diseases of the heart and hypertension), sulfites contained in food products (dried fruit, wine, beer).
Asthma cannot be diagnosed without a breath test, also called a respiratory function or spirometry. Since asthma is caused by many factors, additional tests may be required – a blood test that identifies allergies or immunological disorders.
After asthma has been diagnosed, it is very important to monitor it, working closely with your doctor. The patient and the doctor make an asthma action plan that must be followed to eliminate the symptoms and improve breathing. This plan includes information on when to take medications, what to do in everyday life, how to avoid triggers, and how to monitor breathing.
Medications for asthma reduce puffiness and expand the lumen of the respiratory tract, which allows air to move freely into and out of the lungs.
The main approaches in the treatment of asthma include:
- Short-acting bronchodilators relax the muscles around the bronchi;
- Long-acting drugs include corticosteroid hormone or its combination with a long-acting bronchodilator. These drugs must be taken constantly. Inhaled corticosteroids relieve inflammation and swelling in the airways and prevent triggers from irritating the bronchi;
- Lifestyle change begins with the identification of triggers that cause asthma symptoms. This can be done by keeping a diary, in which patients track daily activities and symptoms that occur during the day or at night. Having learned what provokes asthma exacerbation, you can try to avoid these triggers;
- Peak flowmetry. Daily exhaling in a peak flow meter, you can assess the quality of breathing. Sometimes the value of peak expiratory velocity can warn that asthma is worsening even before the onset of symptoms. If the peak expiratory flow rate is high, then breathing is normal. When the bronchi swell and narrow, the peak expiratory flow rate decreases. At this point, you can increase the dosage of drugs as indicated in the treatment plan. The purpose of peak flowmetry is to try to prevent an asthma attack.
Medications prescribed for asthma are numerous and mainly come as inhaler devices. Such asthma inhalers can be prescribed and then ordered at your local pharmacy, or you could get them online. Many people buy asthma inhalers online because it makes more sense in terms of money. There is no difference between using a brand name inhaler and the one that contains the same active ingredient but has a different name. If the result of the treatment is the same, there seems to be no reason to be overpaying for the treatment. More and more asthma patients choose to buy asthma inhalers at pharmacies they trust, and they come back for more, happy they no longer have to worry about prescriptions and running to their doctor every now and then. Asthma treatment is something you have to treat very seriously, but it’s easy once you know what you want considering how many good online pharmacies there are ready to offer their services.
When to see a doctor?
Constant cough, shortness of breath, whistles and wheezing during breathing is a reason to consult a therapist or pulmonologist. It also needs to be done in the case of an asthma attack, especially if it is not removed by taking short-acting bronchodilators.
With a severe attack, you need to call an ambulance. If you use medicines on a regular basis, you need to visit a physician regularly, at least twice a year.
How do you get the most out of a doctor’s visit?
- Write down the list of symptoms you experience;
- Point out when these symptoms appeared and when they bother you the most;
- Write key information about yourself, including major stressors and recent changes in life;
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you are taking;
- Take with you a family member or close friend if possible. Sometimes it is difficult to remember all the information that the doctor says. The friend may recall some moments that you might forget;
- Make a list of questions to the doctor;
- If you have already been diagnosed with asthma, do not forget to take the recent readings of your peak flow meter.