Asthma – Pathology

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Asthma is a chronic lung disease that is very common today among many people both children and adults. It can be very severe or it can be mild, but it will always need to be monitored. Asthma is mainly about the muscles in the airways constricting making it difficult to breathe. A person with asthma may say it is hard for them to catch their breath. In this essay I am going to summarize what asthma is, the symptoms of asthma, the diagnosis, and the treatment for this disease. I want to inform people who have asthma or know anybody that has asthma to be aware what to do and how to treat it.

There are many respiratory diseases that one can have, and most of them are quite frightening and can be life threatening. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways inside the lungs. With asthma, a blockage of airflow in and out of the lungs occurs from muscle squeezing, swelling and excess mucous. Approximately 12-15 million people in the United States have asthma, including up to five million children (Medical News Today, 2004). There are many causes and symptoms to this disease, however there is no cure to it but it is treatable.

Asthma causes a lot of stress to the body, making it more difficult to treat it. It is important as a health care professional to know a brief understanding of these kinds of diseases so we know how to take care of the patient when you are assisting them. Also it is important to know what to do in an emergency while a patient is going through an asthma attack which can be severely dangerous. It is important to know what are the causes, symptoms, treatments, and the medications for Asthma if you are working in a health care facility or even have a family member or friend living with this disease.

Asthma is a disease affecting the airways that carry air to and from your lungs. People who suffer from this chronic condition are said to be asthmatic. Asthma is characterized by three airway problems: obstruction, inflammation and hyper responsiveness. Asthma causes your airways to be swollen or inflamed. This swelling or inflammation makes the airways extremely sensitive to irritations and increases the ability to an allergic reaction. The more inflamed the bronchus becomes, the narrower the airways become making it extremely difficult to breath, almost impossible.

Since the airways are getting more narrow, less air is able to come to and from the lungs. Once this occurs the person becomes anxious and scared because they are trying to grasp for air. As the airways are becoming narrow, the inhalation and exhalation causes a wheezing sound inside the chest cavity. This “wheezing” sound is a main symptom to Asthma. This sound inside the chest also feels like a vibration inside your chest, it is best heard through a stethoscope taking deep breaths. Other symptoms are chest tightness, difficulties in breathing, and severe chronic coughing.

Usually these symptoms occur more frequently during the late nights and early mornings (American Lung Association, 2013). The increase factor of having symptoms of asthma during the late nights is due to the less adrenaline and corticosteroids which your body automatically makes during the day that protects against asthma. There are many causes to obtaining Asthma; it is not hard to obtain this disease. You can be doing your normal day activities and still have symptoms to asthma. Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children.

Children who have a low birth weight, who are exposed to tobacco smoke, are black, and are raised in a high polluted environment. Other risks for children include having allergies, and parents who have asthma. Allergies are another significant cause to asthma. Usually the people who suffer from asthma also have allergies. Allergic reactions triggered by antibodies in the blood often lead to the airway inflammation that is associated with asthma (“Asthma, A breif”, 1997). Common sources of indoor allergens include animal allergens, usually from cats and dogs. Dust mites, cockroaches, and fungi.

It is possible that the push towards energy-efficient homes has increased exposure to these causes of asthma. Another cause is tobacco smoking. Parents who smoke around their children or inside their home have a high risk of getting asthma due to the second hand smoke intake. Stress is another high risk to the cause of this disease. It is hard to avoid this cause because it is a part of life. People who undergo stress have higher asthma rates. Part of this may be explained by increases in asthma-related behaviors such as smoking that are encouraged by stress.

Obese adults are another factor that contributes to the cause of asthma. Those with a body mass index between 25 and 30 are about 38% more likely to have asthma compared to adults who are not overweight. Obese adults with a body mass index of 30 or greater have twice the risk of asthma. The way you enter the world seems to impact your susceptibility to asthma. Babies who are born by a C-section have a twenty percent increase in asthma inheritance compared to babies born regular vaginal birth.

It is possible that immune system-modifying infections from bacterial exposure during Cesarean sections are responsible for this difference (Medical News Today, 2004). When mothers smoke during pregnancy, their children have lower pulmonary function. This may pose additional asthma risks. Research has also shown that premature birth is a risk factor for developing asthma. The medications that help treat asthma are important in how much you take because there can be negative side effects to the medications, especially long term effects.

The purpose of asthma medications is to reduce the inflammation in the airways of the lungs that cause the wheezing, coughing, tightness in chest and other symptoms. The following are types of medications that are commonly used in asthma treatment; anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, bronchodilators, and anti-leukotrienes which fight potent chemicals that are responsible for airway inflammation. Bronchodilators are commonly used during an asthma attack which is an emergency to open up the bronchial tubes to allow for more airflow.

Corticosteroids are inhaled or in a oral form, depending on the severity. Anti- inflammatory drugs such as cromolyn or nedoromil are used to stop and prevent the inflammation in the lungs (Gelfand, 2012). There are several different types of asthma that all lead to similar symptoms. The types are allergic asthma, exercise-induced asthma, cough-variant asthma, occupational asthma, and nocturnal asthma. Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma. Everyone with asthma, either allergic or non-allergic gets worse after exercising in cold air or after nhaling any type of smoke or dust.

Having allergic asthma, your airways are hypersensitive to the allergens to which you’ve become sensitized. Once these allergens get into your airways, your immune system overreacts. The muscles around your airways tighten and contract. The airways themselves become inflamed and flooded with thick mucus. During normal breathing, the air we take in is first warmed and moistened by the nasal passages. Because people tend to breathe through their mouths when they exercise, they are inhaling drier air (Gelfand, 2012).

In exercise-induced asthma, the muscles around the airways are sensitive to these changes in temperature and humidity and react by contracting, which make the airway narrow. Case Study: I am interviewing my patient Bryan Smith as he had many hospital visits for his asthma attacks. He is a sixteen year old male who complains of having shortness of breath and chest pain. He states that he coughs a lot during the day and at night, and he hears himself wheezing. He explains how it is hard for him to take a deep breath because it feels like his lungs close when he inhales.

For these symptoms the doctor usually checks the heart and with the stethoscope. He will tell Bryan to take slow deep breaths and the doctor will listen from the patient’s back to hear the lungs. During the test the doctor hears a wheezing sound. After, the doctor will perform a pulmonary test which is called Spirometry. This test measures how fast you can blow air out of your lungs and how quickly. It is often used to determine the amount of airway obstruction you have. The patient will have to use a bronchodilator which is called albuterol.

This medication will help open up the patient’s airways allowing air to flow freely and making it easy for them to breathe. As you can see asthma is a very serious disease that needs to be taken carefully. People with asthma should monitor what they do during the day and make sure they are always prepared for having an emergency which in this case is an asthma attack. Being that there is no cure for asthma, there are ways that it can be prevented and treated. Asthma attacks can be reduced by taking medication daily and avoiding polluted environments such as dust, smoke and allergens.

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