Asthma: What you need to know about it


Asthma is a chronic disease affecting the airways of a person’s lungs where the airways become inflamed, narrowed and filled with mucus, making breathing difficult. It is very common and affects both children and adults.

It has no cure but can be controlled effectively with appropriate management.

What causes Asthma?

It is caused by a reversible obstruction to the flow of air into the lungs through the airways.

There are also triggers which precipitate an asthma episode. These triggers may differ from individual to individual. Some of them include

  • Exposure to cold air
  • Physical activity
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Smoke
  • Dust
  • Pets
  • Stress
  • Strong emotions

Some people have occupational asthma caused by breathing in chemical fumes, dust or other substances while on the job.

What are the symptoms of Asthma?

It usually presents with symptoms such as

  • Wheezing (a whistling sound made while breathing)
  • Cough
  • Chest pain/tightness
  • Shortness of breath

Symptoms may occur from a few times a week to as much as several times a day. Symptoms may also tend to be more severe at night.

How can it be managed?

Because asthma has no cure, adequate control is needed to improve the quality of life for people who have it.

However, for some children, asthma symptoms may get much better over time.

Treatment involves;

  1. Lifestyle Modification
  • Avoid triggers
  • Pay attention to early warning signs as it is much easier to manage symptoms earlier
  • Take extra caution during physical activity
  • Weight loss: This improves symptoms in overweight/obese persons
  • Quit smoking/avoid cigarette smoke or any form of smoke
  • Flu vaccination: some individuals may need yearly flu vaccinations to reduce the incidence of coming down with flu which may worsen their asthma symptoms
  1. Consistent and correct medication use
  • Medications for asthma may involve inhalers (devices which deliver the drug directly to your airways), oral tablets and injections depending on severity.

Speak to your doctor for personalized treatment plans for you

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