Causes and symptoms of Asthma

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition of the lungs. Symptoms of asthma include a chronic cough, chest congestion and difficulty breathing. Unmanaged asthma significantly reduces the quality of life. Asthma can be diagnosed on the basis of physical examination as well as through spirometry and peak flow meter. Causes of asthma include pollution, allergens, occupation, and medications.

Types

  1. Exercise-induced Asthma: This condition is also known as Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. The risk of developing asthma increases while doing exercise or any physical activity.
  2. Occupational Asthma: This type of asthma is related to a particular occupation. The people working in these occupations are at high risk of developing asthma. These occupations are related to chemicals, paints, dyes, and latex.
  3. Nocturnal Asthma: When the symptoms of asthma are severe at night, the condition is known as nocturnal asthma. Coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing are exacerbated during the night.
  4. Severe cough Asthma: This type of asthma is characterized by the presence of severe, non-stop, and non-productive cough. Other common symptoms include chest congestion and difficulty breathing.
  5. Allergic Asthma: When asthma is caused due to various allergens such as dust and pollen grains, the condition is called allergic asthma. Uncontrolled Asthma: This type of asthma is severe, and the symptoms are not controlled even after taking the medications. This type of asthma significantly affects the quality of life of patients.

Causes

  1. Allergies: Allergy is considered as the most common cause for asthma. The allergy may be due to dust mites, pollens, fungal spores, and mildew. Cockroach and cats are also known to trigger asthma.
  2. Pollution: Increased pollution and passive smoking also trigger asthma. The particles present in the air irritates the airway and aggravate an asthma attack.
  3. Occupation: People working in some industries are more prone to an asthma attack as compared to other people who are not part of those industries.
  4. Medications: Various medications also trigger the symptoms of asthma. Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antihypertensive drugs, and drugs used for glaucoma may cause bronchoconstriction and may initiate asthma.
  5. Physical activity: Rigorous exercise and energy draining sports add up to the complexity of asthma symptoms. It has been seen that sports and exercise cause bronchoconstriction.
  6. Other health problems: Various health problems also aggravate asthma. If the patient is suffering from flu and cold has a high risk of contracting asthma. The other conditions that increase the risk are sinusitis, nasal polyps, and acid reflux disease.
  7. Strong emotions: Strong emotions such as stress, anxiety, depression, and laughing also triggers the attack of asthma.

Symptoms

  1. Continuous coughing which becomes severe at night
  2. Chest congestion
  3. Chest pain
  4. Difficulty breathing
  5. Pressure or tightness in the chest
  6. Feeling tired early during exercise
  7. Whistling sound while breathing
  8. Trouble sleeping at night
  9. Anxiety and restlessness
  10. Coughing condition which gets worsened by infection

How to diagnose

  1. Physical examination: The physician, by evaluating the physical condition of the patient, gets an idea about the lung function of the patient. Your doctor may check the breathing sound through a stethoscope and ask you about the signs and symptoms you are experiencing.
  2. Lung Function Tests: Two types of tests are done to analyze the functioning of the lungs. Spirometry is the test used to evaluate the amount of air you inhale and exhale. This test also gives an idea about how quickly the air is exhaled. Another test is the peak flow test done through the peak flow meter. This measures the speed of air coming out from lungs when you exhale forcefully after full inhale.
  3. Other tests: Various other tests are done to diagnose asthma. Chest X-ray is conducted to identify any abnormality or infection. Allergy testing can be done to identify the cause of asthma. Methacholine challenge test is also done to diagnose the possible existence of asthma.

Risk neglecting Asthma

  1. Reduction in quality of life: Patients with uncontrolled asthma are living a poor quality life. They feel tired and are unable to participate in social activities. Many a time these patients isolate themselves from society.
  2. Higher frequency of obesity: Children with uncontrolled asthma have a high risk of obesity.
  3. Reduced sleep: Nocturnal cough reduces the quality of sleep in these patients.
  4. Neurological symptoms: The neurological development, especially in children, is reduced and the patient may experience poor concentration.
  5. Cardiovascular health: Cardiovascular health also takes a toll on patients with poorly managed asthma.

Stages

  1. Intermittent asthma: The symptoms of a cough and difficulty breathing are less than twice a week and the lung function test value is 80% or higher of normal values.
  2. Mild persistent asthma: The symptoms of a cough, chest congestion and difficulty breathing are 3-6 times per week and the lung function is 80% or higher of normal values.
  3. Moderate persistent asthma: Symptoms occurs daily in this stage of asthma and the lung function is above 60% but below 80% of normal values.
  4. Severe persistent asthma Symptoms at this stage of asthma is continuous and the lung function is below 60% of the normal values.

Foods

Various foods that ease the symptoms of asthma are:

  1. a) Vitamin D rush foods such as eggs and salmon fish.
  2. b) Magnesium rich foods such as spinach.
  3. c) apple and banana.
  4. d) Vitamin A contains foods such as carrots and broccoli.

Foods containing sulfite as a preservative should be avoided. Onion garlic and fried foods should be avoided as they cause flatulence.

Prevention tips

Asthma can be prevented by following the below tips:

  1. Maintaining healthy air which is free from allergens such as dust.
  2. Keeping normal humidity
  3. Avoid damp areas in the house
  4. Perform regular exercise
  5. Eat a healthy diet
  6. Avoids foods that cause acidity

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor immediately:

  • When you feel severe chest congestion.
  • When you have difficulty breathing.
  • When your asthma symptoms are not controlled even after taking medicine.
  • When you have a continuous nocturnal cough which affects your sleep.