Asthma is mainly a disease of industrial areas where people mainly live in urban cities. This respiratory disorder is more common in the pediatric age group and affects boys more than girls.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disorder of the airway in which there is bronchospasm (i.e. narrowing of the airway) and excess mucus production usually due to over-sensitization.
It affects routine life activities especially those which require physical exertion. Severe asthma attacks disturb sleep and may cause insomnia.
For many people asthma is not a big problem but for others it can be dangerous and life-threatening. After the first asthma attack one must seek medical help as severe asthma attacks can be fatal.
Different types of Asthma:
. There are various kinds of asthma. A few of them are enlisted below:
- Atopic asthma is more common in children. In this type the trigger (allergen) can be identified. The skin prick test is also positive in such patients
- non-atopic asthma often starts later in life. These people have normal IgE levels and there is a negative skin prick test. No allergen can be specified.
- Occupational asthma occurs in people who come in contact with different substances or chemicals at their workplace such as sawdust, paints, latex, etc.
- Exercise-induced asthma is triggered by strenuous exercises such as yoga, swimming, hiking, etc.
- Drug-induced asthma as indicated by the name; it is induced by taking certain drugs. Aspirin-induced asthma is the most common. Others include beta-blockers and NSAIDs.
- Nocturnal asthma
Common signs and symptoms of Asthma:
One can be asymptomatic, have infrequent symptoms and can have specific signs and symptoms. The most common ones are:
- Wheezing (i.e. whistling sound)
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath (Dyspnea)
- Excessive mucus productions
How can we prevent asthma attacks?
You cannot prevent asthma but you can control and prevent asthma attacks by taking certain proactive measures. Here are ten prevention tips to control asthma.
1. Know your allergens
A number of irritants (allergens) have been identified till now. They all can trigger and flare up asthma-attacks.
- Dust mites
- Cigarette smoking
- Cold air
- Exercise and physical exertion
- Common cold
- Food preservatives
- Ibuprofen, naproxen, Aspirin
- Anxiety and mood disorders
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Rhino sinusitis
These triggers are different for different people hence it’s necessary to identify one’s trigger.
2. Steer clear of allergens
Once you’ve identified your allergen, try to avoid it as much as possible. For e.g. reduce your outside trips if you are allergic to smoke and pollens or wear masks.
3. Immunization or Vaccination
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended immunization for asthma. Pneumonia and Influenza vaccinations decrease the risk of exacerbations.
Annual “flu shot” protects you from getting infected by the flu virus which causes seasonal influenza.
There’s another technique called “Desensitization” also called allergy shots. It is used to reduce the risk of allergic reactions. In allergy shots, patients are exposed to tiny amounts of allergens to diminish the body’s response to allergens.
4. Have a treatment plan
With the help of your health care professional, create a health plan to monitor and manage the asthma attacks. This plan must include an assessment of the symptoms from mild to severe and your medications. It should also contain all the adjustments to your medication if your symptoms change.
Follow your asthma plan. The usage of these written plans has to be very effective in managing the asthma attacks.
5. Take your medication
There is no cure for asthma. But symptoms can be improved by taking proper medications. Take your prescribed medicines even if you feel your symptoms have improved. Do not stop your medication without your doctor’s advice.
There are medicines for both short and long term control of asthma.
For quick relief of your symptoms, you can use
- Short-acting beta-agonists ( Albuterol)
- Anticholinergics (Ipratropium)
For long term control on Asthma Attacks:
- Corticosteroids (Beclomethasone)
- Long-acting beta-agonists (Salmeterol or Formoterol)
- Antileukotrienes (Montelukast)
6. Monitor your Respiration
Buy a “Peak Flow Meter” and measure your peak airflow daily at home. This will help you know if your symptoms are worsening or improving even if there is no noticeable change in symptoms. It will also help you to monitor whether your medicines are working or not.
7. Keep the air around you clean
Air filtrating systems can be helpful in this regard as this will help to remove allergens which are usually found in air such as dust particles, pollens, smoke, etc.
Limit your exposure to almost any kind of smoke.
Avoid both active and passive cigarette smoking.
Humidifiers have also been found to be effective for asthma patients. But in some patients humidity worsens the symptoms hence use it carefully.
8. Lifestyle Modifications can affect Asthma Attacks
- Yoga has shown to provide a little improvement in the symptoms of asthma.
- For stable asthma patients, exercise has found to be beneficial.
- Try breathing exercises
- Keep your weight under control as being overweight can make your symptoms worse.
- Stay healthy
9. Avoid animal dander to limit Asthma
Stay away from animals and pets around you. You don’t have to completely give up on your pets but try avoiding direct contact with them. Clean and vacuum regularly as even pet dander can trigger an asthma attack
10. Try herbal and natural remedies
Along with your medicines you can try home remedies to relieve your symptoms. The following items have been found to be advantageous and will surely benefit you.
- Omega-three oils
- Black seed
Asthma generally has a very good prognosis and is not a vicious disorder. Avoid your allergens, adhere to your medication and keep taking proactive preventive measures. Keep breathing!