Asthma: causes, symptoms, and medication
Asthma is a respiratory condition wherein your airways constrict (or narrow) and swell. In extreme cases, it can product mucus or phlegm. When an asthma attack occurs, the patient may find it difficult to breathe causing them to cough, produce a whistling sound (wheezing) when they breathe out, or experience shortness of breath.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a life-long condition that when left untreated, can interfere with a patient’s daily life. For many, however, asthma is a minor condition that may barely be noticeable.
Although asthma can’t be cured, it’s symptoms can be managed. It’s important to know what your symptoms are and how to spot an attack so you and your doctor can work towards the right treatment.
What can cause asthma?
Doctors still aren’t sure what causes asthma, but it is likely due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors.
There are certain triggers that can cause someone’s asthma to act up such as:
- Airborne allergens like pollen, dust mites, pet pander, or cockroach waste
- A virus or bacteria like the flu
- Physical activity
- Cold air
- Air pollutants such as smoke
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition wherein one’s stomach acid comes back up to the throat
What are the symptoms of asthma?
Asthma looks different on every person. Some will suffer from infrequent attacks while others may have signs of asthma that rarely go away.
Signs and symptoms of asthma may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Wheezing (whistling sound) when exhaling, which is common in children with asthma
- Trouble sleeping due to shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing
- Bouts of coughing or wheezing that become worse when the patient has the cold or flu
How to treat asthma
While asthma will never permanently go away, there are ways to make the condition more manageable. This is by knowing what your triggers are so you can avoid them and by taking the right drugs or medication to treat it.
What are the drugs for asthma?
There are two main types of inhalers (or devices used to deliver the medicine) asthma patients can use:
- Bronchodilators like salbutamol which open the airways and help relieve the symptoms of asthma
- Steroids such as beclomethasone that reduce inflammation in the airways, improving asthma symptoms and even reduces the risk of asthma attacks and deaths