Health A-Z

What You Need to Know about Asthma

What You Need to Know about Asthma


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Asthma is a non-communicable disease that affects people of all ages. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), asthma affected an estimated 262 million individuals in 2019 and caused 461,000 deaths. As summer approaches in the UAE, the conditions for patients with asthma get worse. Sandstorms in the summer also make things worse.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a condition that affects your lungs. It causes inflammation in your airways which causes narrowing and makes it hard to breathe. It also causes repeated episodes of breathlessness, wheezing, night-time or early morning coughing, and chest tightness. Severe asthma can interfere with talking or being active. You can manage asthma through medication and by avoiding triggers in your environment.

Things You Should Know about Asthma


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Asthma is characterized by the inflammation of the airways. Asthma can be a nuisance to some people while it can interfere with your life. Here are things you need to know about asthma so you can take control of your situation.

Types of Asthma

There are many ways to define asthma types and some have overlapping symptoms and treatments. Common types include;

Allergic Asthma

Allergic asthma is the most common type and symptoms are triggered by specific allergens like dust mites or pet dander. You can get a diagnosis from the best family medicine specialists Dubai center if you suspect that you have allergic asthma. Allergic asthma usually starts during childhood and is associated with a family history of allergic conditions. Doctors usually recommend inhaled corticosteroids as the standard treatment for this condition. They might also recommend allergy drugs.

Allergic Bronchopulmonary Mycosis

This is an allergic reaction to a particular fungus in the soil. Although this fungus doesn’t affect most people, individuals with asthma and other conditions might have a reaction.

Non-Allergic Asthma

Non-allergic asthma is not caused by allergens. Symptoms are triggered by stress, viral infections, or extreme weather. Non-allergic asthma is treated like allergic asthma.

Adult-Onset Asthma

Some individuals show asthma symptoms in adulthood. It is usually non-allergic so they require higher doses of inhaled corticosteroids.

Aspirin-Induced Asthma

This condition is most common in adults. The symptoms start after consuming non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Symptoms also include nasal polyps and sinus infection.

Nocturnal Asthma

Nocturnal asthma gets worse at night. Triggers and certain aspects of sleep can escalate the symptoms.

Cough-Variant Asthma

Individuals with this condition experience a mucus-producing cough and other symptoms. You experience a dry and unproductive cough. If untreated, it can escalate to classic asthma.

Eosinophilic Asthma

Eosinophilic asthma is severe and difficult to manage. Individuals with this condition have high levels of eosinophil (a type of white blood cell). Eosinophils fight parasitic infections and are associated with allergies. They can cause inflammation at high levels.

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Symptoms develop when your airways narrow as you engage in physical activities. Exercise-induced asthma happens when your airways lose water or heat during exercise. Doctors usually recommend bronchodilators and standard inhaled corticosteroids.

Symptoms

If you have asthma, you experience symptoms because of the narrowing and inflammation of the airways. Symptoms vary in different individuals. Common symptoms include;

Wheeze

Wheezing is one of the most common asthma symptoms. It causes a high-pitched whistling sound as your airways narrow. A doctor can hear wheezing when examining you with a stethoscope. Other people can also hear it without any medical devices.

Cough

Many things can cause a cough, however, a consistent cough, or that starts early in the morning or continues during the night irrespective of the sound it makes should prompt medical attention.

Difficulty Breathing

Sometimes you can experience silent asthma symptoms where the narrowing of the airways does not cause any wheezing or coughing. It is advisable to seek help or let people around you know when you experience silent asthma symptoms.

Chest Tightness

Chest tightness and chest pain happen when the narrow airways make it difficult for sufficient air to pass through which makes the chest feel tight. Symptoms can be severe or controlled. Your symptoms can vary with time. Symptoms usually occur at night, during or immediately after activities, or in the morning.

Asthma Diagnosis

Your doctor conducts various tests and exams to determine whether you have asthma, they include;

Physical Exam

Your doctor conducts physical exams to make sure that you don’t have any other conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or respiratory infection. The medical expert will also ask questions about your symptoms and other health problem.

Measuring Lung Function

Tests to measure your lung function determines how much air moves in and out as you inhale and exhale. These tests include Spirometry which examines how narrow the bronchial tubes are by measuring the amount of air you can breathe out after a deep breath and how fast you can exhale. Another test is peak flow to measure how hard you can exhale. Lower than usual peak flow readings indicate that your lungs are not working properly and that your asthma might be escalating.

Other Tests

Other asthma tests include;

·       Allergy testing - These are conducted via blood or skin test to determine whether you’re allergic to pollen, mold, pets, or dust.

·       Imaging tests - Chest X-rays help identify any diseases or structural abnormalities that can cause breathing problems.

·       Methacholine challenge - Methacholine is an asthma trigger that causes narrowing of the airways when inhaled. If you react to Methacholine, you might have asthma.

·       Nitric oxide test - This test measures the amount of nitric acid gas in your breath.

Treatment

The key to preventing and long-term control of asthma is to stop the attacks before they start. Treatment involves learning to recognize your triggers, avoiding triggers, and tracking your breathing to ensure that your medication is working. The right medication depends on your age, asthma triggers, symptoms, and what works for you. Preventive medication reduces the swelling in your airways to control the symptoms.

Asthma affects people of all ages and should not be overlooked. Various symptoms like wheezing, loss of breath, or prolonged coughing should prompt you to seek medical advice. You should identify your triggers so that you can avoid them and prevent asthma episodes.

Asthma affects people of all ages and should not be overlooked. Various symptoms like wheezing, loss of breath, or prolonged coughing should prompt you to seek medical advice. You should identify your triggers so that you can avoid them and prevent asthma episodes. If you need professional help for asthma, you can consult the best family medicine specialists Dubai health facilities for expert care. 

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