Asthma: Symptoms, Risk Factors and Treatments

Asthma: Symptoms, Risk Factors and Treatments

One of the most common respiratory conditions people are diagnosed with is asthma. In the U.S. alone, 26 million Americans are estimated to have it, and it’s also one of the most common chronic childhood illnesses in children. Asthma is a long-term disease that inflames your airways and prevents oxygen from getting into your lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Asthmatic attacks are dangerous, so it’s important for people to recognize the signs and learn how to manage their condition.

There is no cure for asthma, but it is possible to control symptoms. Getting a diagnosis and being prescribed the proper medication can potentially save your life in case an unexpected asthma attack occurs.

Here are the symptoms and treatments for asthma.

Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma

Since asthma is a respiratory illness, the symptoms largely impact someone’s breathing. This is because asthma prevents oxygen from getting to your lungs. The specific symptoms, severity and frequency will differ from person to person.

Common symptoms of asthma are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Coughing
  • Whistling sounds when exhaling

As symptoms can vary for each person, so does the frequency and instances that trigger an attack. If certain environments or circumstances trigger symptoms, it could be an indicator of asthma.

A person with asthma might experience symptoms due to:

  • Exercise, which can be worse if air is cold and dry
  • Workplace irritants such as chemical fumes, gases or dust
  • Allergies and airborne substances such as pollen, mold spore, particles of skin and dried saliva from pets, etc.

If you’re consistently having a hard time breathing, you should see a doctor. Severe attacks could become life threatening and might require emergency treatments to stop the attack.

Risk Factors And Causes Of Asthma

There is no exact cause for asthma. The most common reasoning behind a person’s diagnosis is genetics and family history. If your parents or someone in your immediate family has asthma, that gives you a greater chance of developing symptoms. Allergies and environmental irritants have also been linked to people with asthma.

In addition to family history and allergies, here are some other factors that could be triggers for asthmatic individuals:

  • Viral respiratory infections
  • Smoking
  • Air pollution
  • Obesity

Knowing your risk factor and recognizing the symptoms of asthma are important ways to be prepared in case you suddenly begin having breathing issues.

Diagnosing And Treatment Asthma

To diagnose asthma, doctors will perform some routine tests to rule out other potential lung conditions. They might give you a test that analyzes your lung function by learning how much air moves as you breathe.

There are different classifications of asthma. Doctors will label a patient with a ranking of asthma based on how often your symptoms occur and the severity. It also gives them an idea of the necessary precautions that need to be taken in order to prevent an attack.

Here are the four categories of asthma:

  1. Mild intermittent asthma — less than three symptoms per week and no medication needed to control it
  2. Mild persistent asthma — three to six symptoms per week, with three to four nighttime symptoms a month
  3. Moderate persistent asthma — daily symptoms that affect your activity, with 60 to 80 percent lung function
  4. Severe persistent asthma — continuous symptoms with frequent nighttime asthma, lung function is less than 60 percent

After getting a diagnosis, your doctor will make recommendations on how you can treat symptoms when they occur. There are short and long term types of treatment. Depending on the severity of your asthma, you could be given daily medications to reduce your chances of an attack. This might come in the form of tablets or inhaled medications.

People with less severe asthma are given quick-relief medications. In the event of an asthma attack, patients can use an inhaled medicine through a face mask or mouthpiece to quickly regulate breathing. Different medications might be used inside the inhaler, but ultimately it will work to relieve inflammation and reopen the airways. It’s really important to keep this medication on-hand since you can’t always predict when an asthma attack will occur.

Living With Asthma

Asthma is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition to have if left undiagnosed. Luckily, it’s a treatable condition you can learn to manage.

Make yourself aware of elements that trigger your asthma. Whether it be allergies, strenuous exercise, or other contributors, knowing this information can help you be prepared and hopefully prevent an attack from occurring.

Your doctor can prescribe you with daily medication if your asthma is severe. If you have a less severe condition with occasional flare ups, then you should always keep your emergency inhaler with you just in case.

Asthma is a common condition that millions of American adults and children live with everyday. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms or have breathing trouble, don’t wait long to see your doctor and find out if it’s asthma related.