Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. This disease causes many symptoms such as recurring wheezing cycles (making sounds like whistles when breathing), coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Patients often cough more at night or early in the morning.
People of all ages are likely to have asthma but they will often develop the disease from an early age. In the United States, there are about 25 million people suffering from this disease and 7 million of them are children.
Overview of asthma
To better understand asthma, we need to know how the respiratory tract works. Inhalation is the pipeline that carries air in and out of the lungs. For people with asthma, their airways are inflamed, becoming swollen and very sensitive. At this time, they tend to react strongly to some inhaled things.
When the respiratory tract reacts, the muscles around the tube will contract, the airways will be narrowed and lead to less air entering the lungs. The cells in the airways produce more phlegm (a mucus, thick and sticky) than normal and the substance is sticky so it makes the airways narrower.
This chain of reactions will produce asthma symptoms. These symptoms will appear every time the airways are inflamed.
Sometimes the symptoms of asthma are mild and go away on their own or disappear after a little treatment with asthma medicine. In some cases, the symptoms will get worse.
When symptoms become more severe or other symptoms appear, you are having an asthma attack, also known as a severe asthma attack.
It is very important to treat asthma symptoms as soon as you know. This will keep the symptoms from getting worse and becoming severe asthma attacks. However, when a patient has a severe asthma attack, he/she needs urgent care, otherwise there will be a risk of death.
Asthma has no cure. Even if you feel that your health condition is good, you can still get sick at any time.
However, with the current level and medical technology, most people with asthma can control their disease, if there is a disease, only a few symptoms will occur. They can live, function normally, and sleep for a long time without being interupted by their asthma.
So if you have asthma, take the initiative in controlling your disease. At the same time, you should see your doctor regularly to get the best care and support.
What causes asthma?
We do not know the exact cause of asthma. Researchers believe that some genetic and environmental factors interact with each other, often cause asthma at an early stage of life. Factors include:
- The tendency to develop genetic allergies
- Parents with asthma
- Respiratory infection at a young age
- Air allergy; contracted viral infections in newborns or in childhood when the immune system is developing.
If asthma or genetic allergies occur in your family, exposure to stimulants (for example, cigarette smoke) can make your airways more responsive to substances in the air.
For certain people, there are a few factors that are more likely to cause asthma for them than others. Researchers are still working to find out whether there are any other factors causing the disease.
Researchers on asthma causes have a hypothesis about "Hygiene Theory." They believe that the Western lifestyle - emphasizing hygiene and sanitation - has contributed to changing living conditions and reducing the overall rate of infection in early life.
Many children are no longer exposed to the same infection and infectious environment as before. This affects the development of the immune system as a child and may increase the risk of asthma and genetic allergies in children. This is especially true for children whose relatives encounter one or both conditions.
Who is at risk for asthma?
People of all ages can have asthma, often appearing from childhood. As many as 8.3% of the population in the US suffers from this disease and children account for 28% of them.
Children who often have wheezing and respiratory infections as well as other risk factors will have a higher risk of developing asthma over 6 years of age. Other risk factors include allergies, eczema (allergic skin condition) or parents with asthma.
In children, boys are more likely to be asthma than girls. But for adults, women suffer from this disease more than men. It is not possible to confirm whether gender and gender hormones contribute to asthma and how it is caused.
Most people with asthma will have allergies. Some people suffer from this disease because of exposure to some irritating chemicals or industrial dust at work, called working asthma.
How is asthma diagnosed?
To diagnose asthma, doctors will ask about the child's health status, respiratory problems and family history. The doctor will also ask about allergies, diseases and contacts that can make breathing difficult.
Children will receive a physical examination and check the function of the lungs. To proceed, doctors will usually check respiration by using a respiratory meter, a device used to analyze airflow through the respiratory tract.
Treatment of asthma
Asthma still has no treatment, however, there is a way to control and prevent an asthma attack. There are two important factors in treating asthma: avoiding pathogens and using medicine.
Stay away from pathogens that promote disease progression
There are many ways to avoid contact with asthma triggers. After identifying the pathogens in the child, the doctor will discuss with parents to make a plan to prevent these pathogens.
For example, if your pet's fur or mold in your home causes your child to develop asthma symptoms, you can make your family immune to asthma by: regularly changing linens, vacuuming regularly and not letting pets enter your child's bedroom. If the problem lies in outdoor allergies (such as allergy to pollen), children should limit outdoor activities on days when the amount of pollen increases.
If exercise is a causative pathogen, your doctor may prescribe a prescription for you to take before you exercise, helping to prevent the airways from shrinking. For those in this case, instead of asking them to stop exercising, the doctors will help them control the exercises so as not to adversely affect the disease. In general, sports can help people be healthier, despite the fact that there are many professional athletes with asthma.
It is also important to get a flu vaccination every year because flu-like illnesses can boost asthma outbreaks.
Medications for asthma
Most asthma medications are inhaled directly into the lungs, however, there are pills in tablet or liquid form. Asthma medicines have 2 types, including:
Quick-relief medicine helps to loosen the narrowed airways, often used when triggering an asthma attack. This drug will work very quickly but not for long, also called "fast-acting" or "rescue" medication.
Long-term medication to help control the disease is to prevent asthma symptoms from appearing. They help the respiratory tract reduce inflammation, causing swelling and sputum. (Quick support drugs only treat symptoms caused by inflammation.) Long-term treatment drugs, also known as "control" drugs or "maintenance" drugs, need to be used every day, even when the child feels well.
Some children with asthma need only fast-acting medication, others need to use both medications that can keep the disease under control.
Information you need to know
Taking care of asthma patients is a lot of work, especially in the early stages. However, there are many tools that will help you take care of your child.
Asthma coping plan is a care plan that is discussed with the doctor for appropriate results. This plan will guide in detail how to control asthma, including:
- Time and drugs that children need to use
- The agents promote disease development and how to prevent them
- Treatment of asthma attacks
- Cases that require emergency treatment.
Doing the right plan will help your child be able to function normally without experiencing asthma symptoms.
Journal-writing the asthma process is also a way to control the disease. Monitoring your child's symptoms and medications will help you know when your child is likely to develop an asthma attack.
The peak flow meter, the type of hand tool used to measure respiratory capacity, is also very useful. Reduced air flow is a sign that the breathing tube is narrowing.
By using assistive devices, taking prescription medications and staying away from pathogens that promote disease, you will help your child stay healthy and respire well.