Understanding Asthma: Symptoms, Triggers, And Treatments


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Asthma is a lung condition. It’s a chronic (ongoing) ailment, which means it won’t go away and requires ongoing medical treatment.

Asthma affects around 25 million people in the United States today. This amount includes over 5 million children. If you do not receive asthma treatment, you risk dying.

What constitutes an asthma attack?

When you breathe regularly, the muscles around your airways relax, allowing air to pass freely and softly. During an asthma episode, three things could occur:

  • Bronchospasm occurs when the muscles surrounding the airways tighten. When they constrict, your airways become narrower. Air cannot pass freely via restricted airways.
  • Inflammation causes swelling of the airway lining. Swollen airways let less air into and out of your lungs.
  • Mucus production: During an assault, the body produces more mucus. This thick mucus blocks the airways.

When your airways become tighter, you emit a sound known as wheezing when you breathe, the same noise your airways make when you exhale. An asthma episode may also be referred to as an exacerbation or flare-up.

What are some common asthma attack triggers?

If you come into contact with irritating substances, you may experience an asthma attack. Healthcare providers refer to these drugs as “triggers.” Knowing what causes your asthma episodes helps you avoid them.

For some people, a trigger can cause an attack right soon. For other people or at different times, an attack may occur hours or days later.

Triggers might vary depending on the individual. However, some typical triggers include:

  • Air pollution triggers asthma attacks. Factory emissions, car exhaust, wildfire smoke, and other sources contribute to air pollution.
  • Certain individuals may experience attacks when exercising.
  • Damp environments can lead to mold growth, aggravating asthma symptoms. You don’t even need to be allergic to mold to suffer an attack.
  • Cockroaches, mice, and other home pests can trigger asthma episodes.
  • Pets can trigger asthma attacks. Allergies to pet dander can cause airway irritation.
  • Strong chemicals or odors. These factors can cause attacks in some persons.
  • Some occupational exposures. Your job may expose you to various substances, such as cleaning products, flour or wood dust, and other chemicals. If you have asthma, all of these can act as triggers.

What are the symptoms of asthma?

Asthmatic patients typically have evident symptoms. These signs and symptoms are similar to many other respiratory infections:

  • Experience chest tightness, pain, or pressure.
  • Coughing, particularly at night.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Wheezing

You may not have all of these symptoms with asthma throughout each flare. Chronic asthma symptoms and indicators can vary from time to time. Furthermore, symptoms can vary across asthma attacks.

Asthma treatment focuses on long-term control of airway inflammation and providing comfort during an asthma attack.

Many patients use an inhaler or nebulizer to deliver asthma drugs directly into their lungs as a mist.

Longer-term treatment includes anti-inflammatory medications, leukotriene modifiers, and immunomodulators, among other therapies, to lower airway edema and the risk of immune-mediated assaults.


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