Asthma: Managing Your Condition
Asthma is a serious and occasionally fatal disease. However, with a careful diagnosis, expert medical treatment and responsible self-care, most people with asthma lead normal, healthy lives.
Causes It is not exactly clear what causes asthma. Those who seem more at risk of developing the condition include individuals with a family history of asthma or allergies, or those who were exposed to tobacco smoke, infections and certain allergens early in life.
Symptoms Common asthma symptoms include the following:
Coughing that is often worse at night or early in the morning
Wheezing (a whistling or squeaky sound when breathing)
Shortness of breath
Faster or noisy breathing
Trouble breathing, especially at night and in the early morning
Attacks Many factors can lead to an asthma attack. Some people may only have an attack if a combination of triggers is present. Asthma triggers are essentially anything that makes symptoms appear or worsen:
Allergens – Animal dander (from their skin,hair or feathers), dust mites (contained in house dust), cockroaches, pollen from trees and grass, and mold (both indoor and outdoor)
Irritants – Cigarette smoke, air pollution, cold air or changes in weather, strong odors from painting or cooking, scented products, strong emotional expression (including crying or laughing hard), stress and exercise
Other triggers – Medicines such as aspirin and beta-blockers; sulfites in food or beverages; gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that causes heartburn and can worsen asthma symptoms; infections; and irritants or allergens that one may be exposed to at work,such as special chemicals or dusts
Treatment Treatments for asthma include:
Self-management – Plans for controlling asthma daily and an emergency action plan for stopping attacks.
Avoiding triggers – Remove dust-catchers from the bedroom; keep humidity levels in your home low; consider using an air filter in the bedroom; do not smoke cigarettes or spend time in environments where others are smoking; try changing your workouts.
Medication – Using preventive (long-term control) and rescue (quick-relief) asthma medications; sometimes allergy medications and shots are recommended as well.
Prognosis There is no cure for asthma, but with proper treatment:
Your asthma can be controlled.
You will have fewer attacks.
You should not need to use quick-relief medicines as often.
You should be able to do normal activities without having symptoms.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For further information, please consult a medical professional.