Facts about Asthma
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects more than 10 million Americans. The illness normally starts in childhood, usually by age three, and often recedes by adulthood. Asthma is caused by congestion of the bronchial tubes, which are the small air passages in the lungs. During an asthma attack, the air passages in the lungs narrow or become blocked by mucus or a muscle spasm. This makes breathing difficult and causes wheezing or coughing. An attack can be triggered by allergens such as pollen, animal dander, or house dust. It can also be caused by a respiratory infection or emotional stress. Irritants including tobacco smoke, smog, and other chemicals are also factors. A sudden change in temperature or humidity and strong winds can trigger an attack and so can strenuous exercise.
Early signs of asthma include: chronic cough at rest or with exercise, shortness of breath, and wheezing and/or tightness in the chest.The best way to control asthma is to avoid the things that cause it. Being healthy also helps prevent asthma attacks, so eat right, get enough sleep and exercise sensibly. It may be necessary for your doctor to prescribe medication to help prevent attacks or to stop them after they begin. Because asthma can be fatal if it isn't controlled, you should be under a doctor's care if you have the condition. For more information on asthma, talk with your doctor.
In the Event of an Asthma Attack
For many patients, the symptoms of an asthma attack can be terrifying. An episode may begin suddenly with breathlessness accompanied by wheezing, a tightness in the chest and coughing. Because anxiety causes symptoms to worsen, every attempt should be made to keep the patient as calm and comfortable as possible. Asthma attacks usually can be controlled with prescription medications, such as bronchodilators, that help relax and open the airways. Severe episodes may require more drastic measures such as adrenaline injections or the administration of oxygen. People with asthma and their families need to know how to recognize the early warning signs of asthma attacks. Proper medical treatment can help ease the frequency and severity of attacks.