What is Asthma? Asthma affects more than 34 million Americans making it difficult for them to breathe. It is a lung disorder that interferes with breathing. It can cause serious, recurring episodes of wheezing, coughing, and breathlessness known as asthma attacks. An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms caused by the tightening of muscles around your airways which are also called the bronchospasm. Asthma was discovered first by Hippocrates during 460-357BC), the Greek physician was the first to describe asthma as spasms. Etiology The complete causes of asthma are unknown.
Heredity and genetic origin plays a big role. So does smoking. Many studies suggest that adults and teenagers who smoke are more likely to develop asthma. And there is strong evidence to allege second hand smoke as well. Young children who are around people who smoke have a higher chance of getting asthma early in life. Asthma is also common in people who are overweight and obese. Researchers found asthma to be twice as common in obese adults and 38 percent more common in overweight adult when compared to people with a healthy BMI. Recently asthma rates have been steadily rising in the US now for decades.
Some researchers say that this is the result of better hygiene, which has reduced the number of childhood infections. The theory is that since there are fewer infections may mean a less well-developed immune system, and an increased risk of asthma. Other possible things that increase the risk of asthma are the increased use of household cleaning sprays, a person’s decrease use of aspirin, and lower levels of vitamin D. Things that can trigger asthma are allergens, pets, air pollution, exercise (which is sometimes called exercise-induced asthma), and change in weather. Signs and Symptoms.
The symptoms that could be developed by asthma are increase in nighttime cough, coughing and wheezing in physical activity, tiredness in activities that could normally be completed easily, worsening of allergy symptoms, dark circles below the eyes or itchiness of the eyes, and inflamed skin. The signs that come with asthma are rapid breathing, less energy during play, frequent cough sessions, complaints of stiffness in the chest, wheezing when inhaling and exhaling, retractions in the chest from strenuous breathing, shortness of breath, tightness in neck and chest muscles, frequent headaches and loss of appetite.
Differential Diagnosis Doctors can sometime mistake asthma with pneumonia, or bronchitis, and or walking pneumonia during a diagnosis because of the similar symptoms. For example pneumonia’s general symptoms are coughing, having a hard time with breathing. But usually patients with pneumonia would use antibiotic because of the high cure rate for pneumonia. Also when the symptom does worsen, doctors would have to change the amount of medicine to use each day. This is similar to asthma, because the patient would have to change medicine if the symptoms worsen. For bronchitis the symptoms are dry cough, and inflamed airway.
These symptoms are pretty much similar to asthma but the treatment for bronchitis is different because it requires only self-care instead of inhalers. The treatment you would have to do for bronchitis is getting more rest, breath in warm moist air, and taking over the counter pain medications, or even going to a therapies. For walking pneumonia the symptoms are coughing, weakness and tiredness. These symptoms are also similar to asthma. But there is no exact treatment for walking pneumonia because it will be cured on its own, but antibiotics could still be used. Diagnosis.
If certain symptoms asthma seems to appear on the patient, the doctor checks how the patient’s lungs are working. A lung function test which is also called spirometry, measures how much air they can breathe in and out. The results will help determine whether the patient is diagnosed with asthma or not and how severe the condition is. Another test that can diagnose asthma is the peak expiratory flow rate test which measures how fast a person can exhale air; it is a test that measures how well the lungs are operating. Your primary care doctor will diagnose asthma based on your medical and family histories and also physical exams, etc.
Once proven that you have asthma, your doctor will figure out the severity of your asthma- weather it’s intermediate, mild, moderate or severe. Some more tests that could diagnose asthma could be an allergy test, which will show the doctor what you are specifically allergic to, and which ones are affecting you, bronchoprovocation test will show the doctor what you are specifically allergic to, and which ones are affecting you. It will also repeatedly measure your lung function during physical activity and after you receive increasing amounts of air or special chemical to breathe in.
Treatment and Prevention To treat asthma you will need to take medication. There is no cure to asthma but there are many ways to control it. Long-term asthma control medications, generally taken daily, are the foundation of asthma treatment. These medications keep asthma under control on a day-to-day basis and make it less likely to have an asthma attack. Types of long-term control medications include; Inhaled corticosteroids, Leukotriene modifiers, Long-acting beta agonists (Combination inhalers), and Theophylline.
Quick-relief (rescue) medications are used as needed for rapid, short-term symptom relief during an asthma attack or before exercise. They consist of Short-acting beta agonists which are inhaled, quick-relief bronchodilators that act within minutes to quickly ease symptoms during asthma attack (Inhaler or Nebulizer) and Oral and intravenous corticosteroids If the patient has an asthma attack, a quick-relief inhaler can ease their symptoms right away. But if their long-term control medications are working properly, they shouldn’t need to use their quick-relief inhaler very often.
Allergy medications may help if the asthma is triggered or worsened by allergies. These include: Allergy shots (immunotherapy), Omalizumab (Xolair), oral and nasal spray, antihistamines, and decongestants as well as corticosteroid and cromolyn nasal sprays. Bronchial thermoplasty is a treatment which is used for severe asthma that doesn’t improve with long-term asthma medications. Bronchial thermoplasty heats the insides of the airways in the lungs with an electrode, reducing the smooth muscle inside the airways. This limits the ability of the airways to tighten, making breathing easier reducing asthma attacks.
There is no real way to prevent asthma, but the most common way to avoid it is to live in a hygienic and superior environment. Besides changing the way that things are in your environment, there’s nothing else. Prognosis When a person is diagnosed with asthma it may be difficult dealing with so many problems and having to fear for an asthma attack. If you have asthma you should avoid things that irritate you like dust and pollen. You should also take your daily medication and bring your inhaler everywhere you go. Citations 1. “Asthma Attack: Causes, Early Warning Signs, and Treatment.
” WebMD. WebMD, n. d. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. . 2. “Asthma Facts Slideshow: Symptoms of Asthma, Causes, and Treatments. ” WebMD. WebMD, n. d. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. . 3. Nordqvist, Christian. “What Are Symptoms? What Are Signs? ” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 26 Aug. 2009. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. . 4. “Signs and Symptoms of Asthma. ” Signs and Symptoms of Asthma. N. p. , n. d. Web. 08 Apr. 2013. . 5. Trovato, Jacqueline. “Asthma Differential Diagnosis. ” EHow. Demand Media, 13 Oct. 2009. Web. 08 Apr. 2013.