Asthma and allergies often go hand in hand. It is important to learn to recognize these conditions and to provide treatment in time.
Asthma is a condition that affects small bronchi and bronchioles that carry air to lungs. There are several types of disorders, primary among which allergic (atopic) asthma takes place.
Symptoms of allergic (atopic) asthma appear under allergens effect, ie substances which are able to trigger allergic reactions in the body, such as pollen or spores of molds. According to estimations, around the world, millions of people suffer from some or other manifestations of allergic asthma.
What Happens in Asthma?
Normally, air is ingested through nose, trachea, and bronchi, which are parts of lungs. At the end of bronchial tubes, tiny breathing saccules are located called alveoli. It is through this atmospheric oxygen into the bloodstream, where distributed for all organs and tissues. In alveoli from blood carbon dioxide is penetrated that is formed by the organism. When breathing relaxation of muscles is located in airway walls, and air can freely go in and out in light of these. During an attack or exacerbation of bronchial asthma there are three processes that disrupt normal breathing:
- Bronchospasm: excessive muscle contraction and bronchi muscle layer, which leads to lumen narrowing.
- Swelling and inflammation of mucous membranes of the respiratory tract.
- Excessive release of mucous cells that are in bronchi shell. And mucus is formed much thicker than usual.
Symptoms of Asthma
In some people, asthma is rarely observed, whereas some patients suffer from them on a daily basis. Typical symptoms of asthma include:
- Frequent coughing, especially at night;
- Wheezing, shortness of breath;
- Wheezing, which is heard in distance;
- Feeling of chest tightness or pain.
Symptoms do not always occur at the same time, and their character and severity can vary from attack to attack. The most common are mild symptoms. Thus airway patency is restored, usually within a few minutes or hours. Severe symptoms develop rarely, but last longer and often require immediate medical care. That is why it is so important to recognize asthma attack and to take appropriate measures that will prevent worsening of conditions.
How to Recognize Early Asthma Attack Symptoms?
Asthmatic attack beginning is indicated by:
- Frequent coughing, especially at night;
- Shortness of normal breathing;
- Weakness or fatigue during physical activity, which is complemented by a cough, shortness of breath or wheezing;
- Signs of allergic reaction, cold or viral infections of the respiratory tract;
- Changing peak expiratory flow rate: indicator, which tells about the intensity of air movement from lungs when the strong (forced) exhalation is present;
- The emergence of such symptoms requires medical attention, which will prevent transition attack in severe form.
Causes of Asthma
Person’s airway while suffering from asthma is very sensitive to a variety of triggers – factors that can cause an attack. That is why you need to avoid a contact with the significant trigger.
The most common triggers of asthma:
- Infections: cold, flu and other viral infections, sinusitis;
- Exercise: often a cause of worsening asthma is the so-called physical stress in children;
- Weather conditions: cool air, sharp temperature fluctuations;
- Smoking and air pollution;
- Allergens, ie substances that cause an allergic reaction in bronchi: house dust mites, pollen, animal dander, spores of mold, food, cosmetics ingredients;
- Street dust;
- The pungent smell of chemical products;
- Strong emotions: cry, anxiety, stress, and even laughter;
- Medications: aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, and beta blockers, which are used for hypertension treatment, glaucoma, migraine;
- In addition, we should not forget that predisposition to develop asthma and allergies is inherited. Therefore, if one of your relatives (especially relatives) suffer from these conditions, then you need to perform particularly carefully.
First, the doctor carefully scans symptoms patient, characteristics for disease, asthma presence in other family members; then carries out an objective examination. After this, a survey means is to determine status light:
Chest X-ray: lungs bronchi and adjacent mediastinal organs snapshot
Spirometry: functional lungs activity determination. The study shows how much air lungs can hold in themselves and how effectively it is exhaled. It measured as ability to transport oxygen alveoli into the bloodstream. To conduct a study, a patient breathes into a tube that is placed in the mouth.
Peak expiratory flow rate: test shows the maximum speed at which air leaves lungs. To do this, a patient exhales in a special device called a peak flow meter.
A provocative test with methacholine is used to define bronchi sensitivity to methacholine, which causes them to spasm.
Additional studies: skin allergy tests, blood tests, sinuses X-rays, intraesophageal pH-meters and so on. These procedures will help a doctor to identify other factors that may influence asthma course.
Treatment of Asthma
To avoid or reduce the risk of attack attacks appearance to a minimum allows lack of contact with triggers, medications and careful daily monitoring of symptoms. It is used bronchodilators, anti-inflammatories, and leukotriene-receptor blockers to treat asthma. In Canadian HealthCare Mall, you will find everything required for this disorder treatment and prevention.
- Bronchodilators. These drugs relieve spasm of smooth muscle cells that are located in bronchial walls. Bronchodilators open up airways quickly, which improves breathing. They also enhance viscous mucus expectoration in bronchi when coughing. Fast drugs can relieve an attack for a few minutes, but their effect persists for long. There are three main types of bronchodilators: beta-2-agonists, anticholinergic agents, and theophylline.
Anti-inflammatory agents. Anti-inflammatory drugs constitute a basis of corticosteroid hormones, which enter the body by inhalation (ie respiration) through a special device. They reduce inflammation, swelling and mucus production of airways, prevent lungs damage. As a result, bronchi become less sensitive to triggers and do not respond to them. In order to develop a full-fledged corticosteroids action, it should be taken daily for several weeks.
Another anti-inflammatory agent is cromolyn. It reduces inflammatory mediators release by stabilizing mast cell membranes – the main structures, where synthesis and histamine release.
- Leukotriene receptor blockers. Leukotrienes are chemicals that are produced in the human body and promote bronchoconstriction and mucus in the lumen and bronchial fluid. Leukotriene receptor blockers reduce airway sensitivity to these agents, thus limiting pathological reaction, improve breathing and decrease asthma symptoms severity. The drugs are taken as tablets or pellets, which must be mixed with food. Their use can significantly reduce the dose of other anti-asthma drugs. Leukotriene receptor blockers may interact with certain drugs, and so before their appointment, it is necessary to inform your doctor about other medicines you are using.
How to Take Medications for Asthma?
Currently, most asthma drugs are administered by inhalation, that is by inhalation. For this purpose, the most diverse devices in which drug is contained as fine powder or aerosol. Also, medications can be administered in form of injections, pills, solutions, and steam inhalation.
How to Take Asthma under Control?
For asthma control, it is very important to monitor the severity and changing nature of symptoms that indicate lung function. At home, it is helpful such a device as peakflowmeter measuring airspeed, the strongest exhalation. This index is called peak expiratory flow expressed in liters per minute.
Peakflowmeter warns of lung function worsening before showing any signs of asthmatic attack. Through daily measurements, you can adjust treatment regimen under symptoms severity. Information is also important for your doctor, who with help of registered data can correct treatment. You should not self-medicate because you cannot define yourself a suitable dose and medication for treatment. We recommend you to consult a doctor before starting application of any medication. Control your health state and be attentive to yourself and everything will be great!