Asthma is a common chronic lung disease characterized by inflammation of the bronchial tubes of the lungs. The airways become sensitive to environmental triggers such as dust, smoke, pet dander, or cold air as a result of the inflammation. The muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes tighten, the airway lining becomes inflamed, and the airways also produce an excessive amount of mucus, making breathing more difficult.
Several types of asthma include childhood, adult-onset, seasonal, and workplace-related asthma. Continue reading to learn more about this breathing disorder, how some people develop it while others do not, how to avoid asthma complications, and the treatment measures available. To assist in developing an effective treatment strategy for people with asthma, numerous Clinical Research Organizations are conducting Clinical Trials in Michigan.
What types of Asthma are there?
Asthma is classified into multiple groups based on the cause and severity of symptoms. These include:
- Intermittent asthma: This type of asthma comes and goes, allowing one to feel normal between asthma attacks.
- Persistent asthma: This type of asthma means that you have symptoms almost all of the time. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. The frequency with which one experiences symptoms determines the severity of your asthma. They also consider how well you can perform tasks during an attack.
Asthma has several causes:
- Allergic: Asthma attacks can be triggered by allergies in some people. Some of the common allergens are molds, pollens, and pet dander.
- Non-allergic: Certain external factors also trigger asthma flare-ups. Exercise, stress, illness, and the weather can all trigger an asthma flare-up.
Asthma can also be caused by:
- Adult-onset asthma: This type of asthma develops after the age of 18 in the age of adolescence.
- Pediatric asthma: Also known as childhood asthma, it often begins before age five and can affect infants and toddlers. Asthma can be overcome in children.
There are different types of asthma including:
- Exercise-induced asthma: Also known as exercise-induced bronchospasm, it is caused by physical activity.
- Occupational asthma: This type of asthma affects people who work in an environment with irritating substances.
- ACOS (asthma-COPD overlap syndrome): This type of asthma occurs when a person suffers from both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Both diseases make breathing difficult.
What are the Symptoms of Asthma?
Asthma causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes and extra sticky secretions within the tubes. Symptoms appear when airways become constricted, inflamed, or clogged with mucus.
Asthma has three significant symptoms:
- Airway obstruction: Normal breathing causes the muscle bands surrounding your airways to relax, allowing air to flow freely. However, when you have asthma, your muscles tighten. The passage of air is more difficult.
- Inflammation: Asthma causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes in your lungs. This inflammation may cause lung damage. The treatment of this condition is critical for long-term asthma management.
- Irritation of the airways: Asthmatics have sensitive airways that overreact and become narrow when they come into contact with even minor allergens.
The above problems may result in symptoms such as:
- Coughing, typically at night or early in the morning
- Whistling sound while breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness, pain, or pressure
- Sleeping difficulties due to breathing problems.
Some asthmatics may go for extended periods of time without experiencing symptoms. Others may face challenges on a daily basis. Furthermore, some people only develop asthma when they exercise or have viral infections such as colds.
How can healthcare professionals diagnose Asthma?
There is no single test that can determine whether or not you or you have asthma. Instead, your doctor will use a number of criteria to determine whether the symptoms are caused by asthma.
The following factors can help in the diagnosis of asthma:
- Medical history: One’s risk is increased if they have family members who suffer from a breathing disorder. Inform the doctor about this genetic link.
- Physical examination: The doctor will use a stethoscope to examine the breathing. A skin test may also be performed to look for signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives or eczema. Allergies increase the risk of asthma.
- Breathing tests: Tests like PFTs measure the amount of air that enters and exits through the lungs. Spirometry, which is the most common test, involves blowing into a device that measures the speed of the air.
What asthma treatment options are available?
Asthma treatment options typically include a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. The primary goal of asthma management is to achieve and maintain control over symptoms, prevent flare-ups, and improve one’s quality of life. The specific treatment plan may vary depending on the severity of asthma and individual factors, so it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice. However, here are some common asthma treatment options:
1. Quick-Relief Medications (Short-Acting Bronchodilators)
- Short-acting beta-agonists (SABA): These are usually inhaled medications that quickly relax the muscles surrounding the airways, providing immediate relief during asthma attacks or acute symptoms.
2. Long-Term Control Medications:
- Inhaled Corticosteroids (ICS): These anti-inflammatory medications are typically taken daily to reduce airway inflammation and prevent symptoms.
- Long-acting beta-agonists (LABA): These medications are often combined with ICS to provide both anti-inflammatory effects and long-term bronchodilation.
- Leukotriene modifiers: These oral medications block the action of leukotrienes, which are substances that cause airway inflammation and constriction.
- Immunomodulators: These medications, such as omalizumab, target specific immune system components to reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks, particularly in allergic asthma.
3. Combination Medications:
Some inhalers combine an inhaled corticosteroid with a long-acting beta-agonist in a single device, making it easier to manage both daily control and quick relief.
4. Other Medications:
- Theophylline: This oral medication helps relax the airway muscles and can be used in certain cases.
- Oral corticosteroids: In severe cases or during asthma exacerbations, short courses of oral corticosteroids may be prescribed to quickly reduce inflammation.
5. Allergy Management:
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy): For individuals with allergic asthma, allergy shots can help reduce sensitivity to specific allergens and improve symptoms.
- Avoiding triggers: Identifying and avoiding triggers such as allergens (pollen, dust mites, pet dander), irritants (smoke, strong odors), and exercise-induced asthma triggers can be an important part of asthma management.
In addition to medication, lifestyle changes can help manage asthma and reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. Below mentioned are some lifestyle changes that may be beneficial:
1. Make Your Environment Clean and Healthy:
- Maintain a clean living environment free of dust, mold, and pet dander. Vacuum, dust, and wash bedding on a regular basis.
- To keep dust mites at bay, use mattress and pillow covers.
- To prevent mold growth, keep humidity levels under control.
- Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke exposure. Make your home a no-smoking zone.
2. Control Allergies:
Work with an allergist to develop an allergy management plan if you have allergies that contribute to your asthma. Medication, immunotherapy (allergy shots), and other allergy treatments may be used.
3. Regular Exercise and Physical Activity:
Regular exercise is good for everyone’s health, including asthmatics. Consult your doctor for exercise advice, and develop an asthma action plan that includes pre-exercise medication, warm-up exercises, and gradual intensity progression.
4. Stress Reduction:
Asthma symptoms can be triggered or exaggerated by stress. Find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as practicing relaxation techniques, participating in hobbies, getting enough sleep, and seeking help from friends, family, or a counselor.
Asthma, also known as bronchial asthma, is a condition in which the airways narrow and swell, causing extra mucus to be produced. This makes breathing difficult and causes coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing), and shortness of breath.
Asthma is a minor annoyance for some people. For others, it may be a major issue that disrupts daily activities and also results in a life-threatening asthma attack. While asthma has no cure, its symptoms can be managed through various measures. There are treatments available that can help keep the symptoms under control so that they do not interfere with your life. To learn more about the condition and its management, consider reaching out to Clinical Research Organizations conducting Asthma Clinical Trials.