Understanding Asthma: Types, Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment
Asthma is often mistaken for other respiratory conditions, but it is a chronic disease caused by inflammation of the airways. This inflammation leads to respiratory symptoms like shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing, among others.
Asthma has been affecting many people in recent times, with genetic and environmental factors playing a role. Pollution is particularly harmful to everyone, especially asthmatics. Asthma is classified as either bronchial asthma or asthmatic bronchitis.
Causes of Asthma:
- Excessive laughter.
- Physical exercises.
- Frequent changes in weather.
- Substances like smoke or pollution.
- Exposure to allergens.
- Viral infections.
Types of Asthma:
- Allergic Asthma: Triggered by the inhalation of allergenic substances like dust, pollen, mold, chemicals, and animal dander, among others.
- Non-Allergic Asthma: Caused by non-allergenic situations or substances such as dry air, colder weather, smoking (active or passive), stress, and others.
- Mild Asthma: The most common type, well-controlled with initial standard treatments, and doesn’t present major problems.
- Moderate Asthma: More complicated, requiring additional treatments to achieve control.
- Severe Asthma: Patients in this category have the highest mortality rate due to uncontrolled severe and frequent attacks, chronic morbidity, and potential impairment of lung function or growth in children.
Important Actions during Asthma Attacks:
If you encounter someone having an asthma attack, take quick action to help:
- If the person is already medicated, offer their asthma medication.
- Place the person in a seated position and leaning forward to aid breathing.
- If symptoms persist, call an ambulance or take them to the nearest hospital promptly.
Diagnosing asthma involves a physical examination where your doctor will inquire about your signs, symptoms, and other health problems. Additionally, functional lung tests like spirometry, which measures how much air your lungs can exhale after a quick breath, and peak flow measurements, assessing the speed of exhaled air, may be required.
To prevent asthma symptoms, especially after being diagnosed with the condition, consider the following methods:
- Avoid exposure to smoke as it is harmful to asthmatics.
- If you have allergies to pets, consider not having them, as they may worsen the condition.
- While the exact effect of the flu vaccine on asthma exacerbation is unclear, it is recommended by the WHO.
Asthma is Incurable but Manageable:
Although asthma is incurable, proper treatment allows for effective disease control, enabling patients to lead a normal life. Most asthmatics can live normally without restrictions by following some basic rules:
- Avoiding contact with risk factors.
- Using daily controller medications as prescribed.
- Regularly consulting your doctor.
While asthma has no cure, consistent treatment significantly improves the patient’s quality of life. The treatment plan will be lifelong, requiring continuous care.
Treatment involves using medications prescribed by your doctor and avoiding exposure to risk factors such as dust, smoke, and others that may exacerbate the condition. Engaging in exercise, such as swimming, volleyball, and walking, can also help improve cardiac and respiratory capacity.