Asthma is a medical
condition resulting from narrowing of airways. Asthma may make it more
difficult for a person to breathe air in and out of the lungs. Asthma
occurs from increased sensitivity of the airways. Outside substances
such as pollen, dust, air pollution smoke or varieties of other things
that may cause allergy are known as allergens. When a person with
increased sensitivity of the airway gets exposed allergens or irritants,
airways react with an inflammatory response causing swelling and
narrowing of the small airways. As the airways gets narrower the person
may find that it is getting harder to breathe. The breathing difficulty
is not always present. Asthma attacks can be intermittent or persistent
with varying severity. Some times patients may not have any symptoms for
a long time, but some other times they may be in severe recurrent
Asthma can occur in children and adults. The most common symptom of
asthma is difficulty in breathing. The narrowing of the airways may
cause audible respiratory sounds called wheezing. Asthma may also be
associated with cough and mucous production. Patients with asthma may
get a feeling of chest tightness when they are exposed to cold.
The exact reason why some people are more sensitive to allergens is
unknown. If you have a close family member affected with asthma your
risk of developing asthma is higher compared to the general population.
Having a parent with asthma is the most important risk factor for the
development of asthma. Children who have multiple allergies may have a
higher risk of developing asthma. Girls have a higher risk of developing
asthma as compared to boys.
An asthma attack can be triggered by many factors. The following are
Molds, animal dander
Exposure to cold
Acid reflux disease
Irritants (chemicals, perfumes)
There are many good treatment options available for asthma. The main aim
of the treatment is to decrease the narrowing of the airways.
Medications to decrease the inflammation and swelling of the airways are
also often used. Since asthma is an incurable disease, regular care from
your physician is important. It is not wise to wait until you develop
problems to consult your physician.